Everything you need to know before buying a paper shredder
Welcome to the website about Paper Shredders, essential security devices in the modern world. With so much information today it gets easier to steal someone’s money or even their identity. A shredder can protect you and your family. It can also be a necessity for doing professional work in a business.
Even if you already have a paper shredder, you might be wondering what features to get in a new one. This market has evolved very fast, so if it’s been a while since you shopped for one, there might be some new things to learn along the way.
What Is A Paper Shredder?
It is a specialized mechanical device used to shred paper into fine pieces or shreds. They are used by businesses and individuals to discard confidential or sensitive information.
Paper shredders are used for a destruction of sensitive information. It uses electric engines to cut the paper into very small pieces or strips. However, not all of them are equally effective. Hence, you must choose a shredder that is suitable for your specific requirements.
Why Should People Have One?
If you’re reading this to decide whether you need a shredder, or you just aren’t sure which one to get, then think about the value they bring you. While they’re generally used for document destruction, there are multiple reasons to have one:
There are places you can get documents shredded. Some print shops and libraries do it for anyone that walks in. However, that’s another trip during your day, and it’s not always free. Doing it right at your desk gets it done then and there. Besides, the shredded paper takes up less space than a crumple sheet, so you don’t have to take out the trash as much.
Not only do you need to protect yourself, but you also need to protect those around you. In your office, that could be employees. In private life, that could be family and friends.
- Save Money And Spare Yourself Stress
Keeping sensitive information out of the wrong hands protects your identity later on. The cost of restoring your good name is a lot more expensive than most shredders.
- Customer Protection
If you’re getting rid of information about customers, patients, or clients, then you need to shred it. Personally identifying information that falls into the hands of the wrong people can turn into serious issues for them. Not only do you not want to do that to them, but you could be exposing yourself to legal liability along the way.
If you need to buy a paper shredder for your office or line of work instead of personal use, you might be legally obligated to do so. Federal laws, including HIPAA and FACTA, mandate that certain categories of materials be shredded. Failing to comply can mean serious consequences.
- Don’t Feed Dumpster Divers
Dumpster diving is surprisingly legal across most of the United States. This is where people sift through other people’s garbage. Some are just looking for food, and others are looking for potentially valuable materials or pieces. However, others are just looking for a chance to commit identity theft.
Paper shredders usually have energy-efficient technology. Shredding locally saves fossil fuel use in a facility somewhere else to shred as well. Also, depending on the sensitivity of the documents, you might be able to use shreds for garden mulch, pet bedding, and even shipment packaging.
- Destroy More Than Just Paper
Some of them can sometimes destroy more information than just paper sheets. Depending on the product, you can destroy CDs and DVDs, credit cards, and more.
- Stress Relief
Hate your bills? Of course, you do. Once they’re paid, destroy them!
Paper shredders can be classified in two different ways. The first is by shred type, and the second is by security level. The primary shred types are as follows:
These turn paper into tiny chips, producing minimal waste. They offer more security than you get with a cross-cut model. Micro-cut shredders are considered the highest level of security.
The midrange of cut size turns papers into small rectangles. The waste is less bulky than what you get from strip cutters. It’s also more secure.
These paper shredders will turn your documents into long strips of vertical length. While they can be faster to use than most other models, you should only use them for nonessential documents. Consider the ease with which a patient person can reassemble the strips by lining up images and text with enough tape. This activity is called counter-forensics. On the other hand you can buy them for a very low price.
In addition to their cut styles, there are also common industry standards further breaking down just how secure they are. Higher levels of security turn documents into tinier pieces. Whereas lower levels of security are better suited for just minimizing clutter and junk mail.
The most common security rankings range from P-2 up to P-7.
|Security Level||Intended Use||Cut Style||Shreds Per Page|
|P-5||High Security||Micro Cut||2,000|
|P-7||Top Secret||Various Methods||15,600|
If you want to apply bare minimum security to your personal life, then anything P-4 cross-cut or higher is necessary. P-5 level shredders are commonly used in professional settings like lawyer’s offices. P-7 products are used in the protection of national secrets. Such units aren’t always available on the open market, though you might find commercial services offering them.
Features To Seek
Shredders usually serve for document destruction, but they also offer various other features.
You might have more than just paper to destroy. Shredders that can also handle staples, paper clips, and even credit/debit cards. They can usually have junk mail inserted straight into them without you having to fish out every tiny piece of metal or unwanted card.
This is also sometimes known as run time. Paper shredders can only operate continuously so long before you can safely use them again. It’s often possible to force-feed it to keep running longer than it wants to. But ignoring the cool-down period usually results in serious wear and tear on the shredder that reduces its effective lifespan in your service.
Sheets Per Pass
This is how many sheets you can feed into it at one time. Small budget models might only do one page at a time, whereas others might handle three to five pages or even more. The more pages it can handle at once, the less time you’ll spend shredding things.
The speed a shredder can handle a whole bundle of paper is typically measured in how many feet per minute. Since most documents are letter-sized and only an inch shorter than a foot, these numbers line up pretty close to actual page numbers. A shredder that can do 10 feet per minute can handle 10-11 pages per minute.
Planning on doing lots of shredding? Consider the following possibilities:
- Basket capacity
- Indicator for a full wastebasket
- Automatic document feeding
- Manual reverse
- Quiet operation
- Overload protection
- Energy efficiency
- Safety lock-outs
You can find more features in our reviews of specific products.
How To Use It
- Before doing any shredding, unplug your device and then check the blades. If they’re too chipped, it might be time for a new shredder.
- Know and honor your machine’s limitations. If it’s not supposed to do staples, paper clips, and credit cards, don’t send them down its throat.
- Insert your materials into the shredder. It will then fragment your documents into hundreds or thousands of pieces. If there’s a slot specifically for banking cards, use it when you have those.
- Turn your shredder on with the appropriate switch. Let it run. If it jams, find and use the reverse button or switch.
- Dispose of your fragments. You might be able to recycle them if you feel comfortable with doing that. Putting them in with regular waste is also a possibility. You wouldn’t be the first to sprinkle document shreds through several different black bags of garbage. Just to make sure no one can ever reassemble them or find them all.
Paper shredders have powerful motors and sharp blades. Don’t abuse them or disrespect them. Always read the manufacturer’s instructions at least once and then again routinely to know the ins and outs of your machine you need to respect.
- No matter how much ‘fun’ shredding can be, often depending on what you’re tearing up, these aren’t toys. Don’t let kids have access to them. Also, don’t let your necktie have access to it if you’re still wearing it.
- Never force anything into the shredder. Just some gentle insertion should be all you need to get the feeder to start grabbing and munching on its own.
- Take advantage of safety features. A lot of new shredders have automatic shutdowns when they detect limbs in proximity to the feeder. This doesn’t just protect people but also pets and animals.
- Unplug your machine when it’s not in use. You’ll save power and also make the shredder last longer. Store the machine when not in use.
In as much as paper shredders help you maintain your personal and financial security, you need to help maintain your shredder. Specific maintenance and upkeep tips will depend on the manufacturer, so read up on the instructions. However, there are some general tips to follow with most machines:
- Empty your shredder regularly. Even units with overload indicators might not light up until they start getting backflow.
- Run your shredder in reverse once in a while. This frees up debris from between the blades that have yet to fall into the bin.
- Clean your shredder blades. Compressed air is a quick and easy way to do it, although there are also lubricants you can use. Some blades can even be cleaned by shredding special cleaning paper through them, which is very convenient.
- Lubricant sheets are much better options than DIY solutions like canola oil or WD-40. Both can gum up a shredder and ruin it, and canola oil can turn rancid in warm conditions.
Clearing A Jam
Check your safety lights. Sometimes these will tell you where the problem is because sometimes it isn’t a jam so much as it is overheating or a full bin.
Unplug your shredder, empty the bin, and let it cool off for a while. When it’s back on, use the reverse mode to potentially loosen the jam.
Don’t use your hands to clear out a jam unless the power is off and it’s unplugged. Pliers and tweezers might be necessary.
Disposing Of The Waste
With the right level of security with your shredder, you should be able to do anything you want with the material safely. Depending on what you shred, you might have some creative options you can follow if you’re comfortable with them. For example papier-mache, animal bedding, mulch, packaging materials, and even scarecrow stuffing.
In some cases, you might not people or organizations that want your shredded paper, and it won’t even be to try and steal your identity. If you don’t compost but have friends that do, they might love the material. Pet owners and animal shelters might also love anything they can use for clean animal bedding inside cages.