A paper shredder is an excellent way to destroy sensitive documents, old paperwork, unwanted magazines, and any other type of paper waste that’s been accumulating in your office.
In the age of identity theft, throwing away or recycling intact personal documents with sensitive information, such as personal names, addresses, social security numbers, banking details or any other type of sensitive information is way too risky.
While you can hire a professional agency to destroy these paper documents for you, those services can cost several hundred dollars a year or more. When it comes to protecting your identity and avoiding legal consequences, a once-off payment of a few hundred dollars is a very reasonable price to pay.
Whether you’re looking for a paper, plastic, or sheet shredder, there are a couple of things you should keep in mind, including:
The sheet capacity determines how quickly you can shred paper, and how many people can operate the device at the same time. Paper shredders are measured by the number of sheets they can shred at once. The higher the number, the more expensive the shredder is, but also the quicker the job gets done.
Basic, entry-level models for home offices can shred up to four sheets; mid-priced units can shred up to six sheets, while the best shredders can shred up to eight sheets and top-tier shredder models can shed up to twenty.
Most paper shredders come with a certain risk of jamming. Cheaper models are more likely to jam than others, and jams are easier to clear in some models than others as well. Some very high-end shredders come with guarantees against paper jams. High-volume machines are usually less likely to jam.
Since credit cards are not made of paper, some shredders, especially cheaper ones, may have difficulty shredding them or cannot do so at all.
Companies that may have to shred credit cards with expired dates, such as banks and credit unions, will want to make sure this feature is available. A dedicated credit card shredder can easily cut through CDs, DVDs, and sturdy plastic as well.
Just how much paper can you shred before you have to empty your shredder and start over? This ties in with how many papers you can shred at a time as well. Any company that shreds a high volume of paper will want a moderately sized shredder.
Most paper shredders use a cross-cut method to shred documents, but other cutting methods exist, including micro-cuts. You may want to consider strip-cut shredders or micro-cut shredder models over cross-cut units, as they’re perfect for high-volume shredding sessions. Micro-cut shredders are also perfect for destroying documents containing sensitive data, as they offer superior security.
Most models on the list are modern shredders – models that can cater to the shredding needs of home offices and large enterprises.
The differences that separate light from heavy-duty paper shredder models do not always reflect their versatility. A well-rounded compact shredder that never jams, for example, is just as competent as a big, heavy-duty model with inconsistent performance.
If a paper shredder can serve its purpose, it can be labeled as “good”. However, the best paper shredder models are the ones that get the job done, regardless of the situation.
We wanted to provide you with a range of solutions, so whether you’re a leading digital publisher or an employee of a startup, you can pick between several qualified options.
The list features a selection of hand-picked micro-cut shredder models, high-capacity cross-cut units, portable shredders with a high paper capacity, and dependable workhorse models.
The shredders I’ve included on the list can cut paper, cardboard, tough plastic, and other materials. The ability to shred different kinds of material reflects the machine’s power and reveals its intended use.
The value behind any paper shredder becomes relevant when using and comparing several different models.
When you buy your first entry-level shredder, you’re probably not too familiar with all of its features and functionalities straight off the bat. After upgrading once or twice, you begin to see not only the obvious differences but also subtle nuances.
We’ve made sure to select the models that offer superior value, meaning that they can outperform more expensive models, endure longer than similarly priced ones, and get the job done.
Although we can’t predict the shredding needs for everyone, we feel that the Fellowes Powershred 125Ci is the best shredder for the money. It offers fast performance, a long runtime and a large wastebasket, eliminating constant trips to the recycling bin.
If all you need is a standard, run-of-the-mill paper shredder, AmazonBasics is what you’re looking for. It doesn’t cut too quickly and it can’t run for very long, but it’s perfectly suited for home or light office use.
This cross-cut paper shredder can tackle six pages at a time and is also capable of cutting credit cards, albeit only one at a time. It shreds paper down to a dimension of 7/32 by 1-27/32 inches and can shred papers measuring up to 8.7 inches. This model also has a 3.8-gallon waste basket. This cross-cut shredder is backed by a one-year warranty provided by Amazon.
It can only run for two minutes, and it takes a full half-hour to recover from overheating. If you have to shred a lot of documents, it’s not going to get done in two minutes with the size of this shredder, and the half-hour downtime is unacceptable. The rapid shredding ability of this cross-cut paper shredder, however, puts it leagues above many similarly priced models.
It may not be the best paper shredder on the market, but its approachable price tag makes it an affordable shredding solution. If you take the shredder for what it is, it is perfectly capable, and it is reasonably priced for any household.
Aurora’s AU1010MZ is a decent upgrade for people who’ve been using a shredder in the same tier as AmazonBasics.
This micro-cut paper shredder costs just a bit more than your average entry-level paper shredder and offers some of the benefits of a solid mid-range unit. First and most notably, it boasts five minutes of continuous run time and can cut up to 10 sheets simultaneously.
AU1010MZ excels at shredding documents and soft paper, but it can shred credit cards as well. After a job well done, the bits of paper or plastic are as tiny as 5/32 x 1-5/32 inches.
With a 5.2-gallon waste basket, Aurora’s AU1010MZ micro-cut shredder offers a solid disposal solution for everyday office shredding sessions. It’s more than enough for home shredding unless you’re bringing home a ton of paper that needs to be ripped to bits on a daily basis.
What sets it apart from similarly priced paper shredders are several convenient features that I’ve usually found on more expensive models. Most notably, the thermal protection backed with automatic shut-off, as well as the LED indicator that beeps if it starts overheating.
Although it’s not massive per se, this paper shredder is a bit heavy for a light-duty shredder. If you’re going to use it at home, you’ll also need to think of organizing enough storage space too.
If you liked Aurora’s AU1010MZ but thought there was some room for improvement, our guess is you’re going to love this one. Essentially, AU1262XA is a direct upgrade in comparison, offering more power, increased runtime, and even more convenient features.
Equipped with much sharper shredder blades, AU1262XA is one of the best affordable cross-cut paper shredders that can shred credit cards and CDs, as well as paper, obviously. It can cut material down to 3/16 x 1-3/32 inches. This machine can keep shredding paper for six minutes tops while its cool-down period is approximately 30 minutes.
This credit card shredder features multiple LED indicators, which allow you to tell the machine’s status at a glance. Standby, overheat, full bin, open door, and overload indicator lights will tell you how to approach its maintenance and when.
The only thing that AU1262XA doesn’t do better than other shredders in its price range is managing waste storage. Namely, the prior model features a 5.2-gallon bin while this model has a 4-gallon bin. This isn’t that much of a difference if you’re shredding plastic or paper once a week. For daily use, however, it’s quite a big deal.
This is easily one of the best shredders under $50.
If you have to shred large amounts of documents on a regular basis, you need something that can run for a while. That something is the Bonsaii EverShred. With up to 30 minutes of continuous shredding, you’ll work through your piles of paperwork in a single sitting.
Like the Swingline, the Bonsaii EverShred can tackle 14 sheets of paper at a time, and it shreds them down to a manageable 5 x 40 millimeters in size. It is designed with a jam protection system that auto-reverse when jams are detected, minimizing frustrating and time-consuming jams.
The 30-minute runtime is impressive, but even better is the cool-down. It takes just ten minutes before the EverShred is ready to go again, so if you’re not able to shred everything you need in 30 minutes, you won’t have to wait long.
The only real problem with the shredder is its smaller storage bin. 4.5 gallons isn’t terrible, but it is smaller than both of the previous shredders on this list. Still, it is a minor issue and doesn’t detract from the quality of this shredder.
The Fellowes Powershred 79ci does a splendid job living up to its name. Not only can it shred some paper, but also staples, credit cards, paper clips, CDs and DVDs, junk mail – if you can name it, Powershred can destroy it. It is possibly the best shredder in this niche.
One of the big selling points of the Fellowes Powershred 79ci shredder model is its claim to be 100% jam-proof, and in our experience, it did a fine job living up to that promise. We wouldn’t count on it not jamming if you tried to overload it, but when using it properly it can power through any shredding situation.
The Powershred runs for up to 20 minutes, with a 30-minute cool-down afterward. 30 minutes is a bit long, but it’s understandable considering the amount of power being used. 20 minutes is a good length of time to run, so the cooldown period is not too upsetting.
What we don’t like is the pull-out bin. Although its six-gallon size is adequate, it is not the best design. It’s messy, spilling paper shreds every time it’s removed and struggling to slide back into the device.
The slot itself is amazing, and the Fellowes Powershred 79ci doesn’t short you on power, but its poor bin design keeps it from getting a perfect grade.
If you’ve ever had to shred thousands of documents in a single sitting, you know how time-consuming the process can be, especially if you have to deal with lengthy cool-down periods. The Royal 1840MX cross-cut shredder is an excellent choice to get through long shredding sessions.
Its large slot is capable of handling up to 18 sheets of paper at once, and its runtime of 40 minutes is nothing short of superb. It can shred papers, CDs, and credit cards quickly and easily; it can shred paper in a mere five seconds. Its large 8 ½ gallon wastebasket accommodates its long run time, minimizing your trips to the recycling bin.
The 1840MX is not cheap, and represents a moderately significant investment, but the warranty goes a long way to ensuring peace of mind and guaranteeing a quality product.
Unlike most paper shredders, the Aurora JamFree 20-Sheet Paper Shredder is mounted on wheels, making it easier to move it about the room or take it to the recycling bin. With the capacity to shred up to 20 documents simultaneously, Aurora is a powerful and highly versatile cross-cut paper shredder.
As the name indicates, the AU2030XA is designed for clearing paper jams. Its sensors automatically detect if it is operating over capacity and will cease functioning, preventing you from making a time-wasting error.
The AU2030XA has a seven-gallon wastebasket. This cross-cut paper shredder continuously runs for up to an hour and will automatically shut off if not used for five minutes. Unfortunately, the shredder also requires a cool-down of 50 minutes, limiting the effectiveness of its one-hour runtime.
This shredder works quickly and effectively, and it has a smart design that prevents jams. It’s one of the best heavy duty paper shredders due to its excellent runtime and exemplary cross-cut ability. However, you’ll want to weigh the length of its running time with the length of its cool-down period before you commit to buying it.
When you hear the name Shredstar X20, you’ll probably think of a futuristic high-tech machine that is leagues above its best-in-class counterpart. X20 certainly is among some of the finest shredders on the market, and its advanced features can be labeled futuristic.
This is one of the most competent office shredding units on the market that can cater to the needs of up to five people. It can shred up to twenty sheets and has a 6.9-gallon wastebin that is very easy to empty and return afterwards.
One of the coolest features of Shredstar X20 cross-cut paper shredder is its separate CD shredding compartment with a dedicated plastic waste container. Separating plastic from paper waste is not only convenient but is also great for the environment.
This machine sports five indicators that will tell you if it’s working, overloaded, overheated, if the doors are open, or if the bin is full. It’s not completely noiseless, but it operates under 57 decibels, which is still pretty quiet.
Overall, X20 is among the strongest, best-equipped paper shredders in its price range and is, frankly, well worth the price.
The Bonsaii EverShred Pro 4S30 may only shred 10 papers at a time, but it has something else working in its favor: 240 minutes of operating time.
It also shreds documents into very fine particles, measuring a mere 2 x 10 millimeters – a tenth the size of the shreds made by the EverShred C169-B. It is able to shred paper, as well as credit cards, CDs and DVDs, small paper clips and staples, and it can shred 7.2 feet of documents per minute.
Auto start and auto-reverse features work to prevent jamming, and a large 7.9-gallon wastebasket offers plenty of room for your paper waste; there is also a separate 0.37-gallon bin for your CDs and DVDs, which cannot be recycled. This model automatically starts shredding once powered, automating the process and saving you time.
The EverShred Pro 4S30 may not be able to shred as many documents at a time as some other shredders, but its 240 minutes of runtime provide reason enough to seriously consider this shredder.
As far as paper shredders go, the Fellowes Powershred 125Ci is one of the most expensive – and powerful – shredders on the market. If you’re looking for a competent cross-cut paper shredder with strong features, 125Ci may be what you’re after.
Like the other Powershred model, it is designed to power through tough jobs without jamming, with auto-detection sensors that prevent it from running over capacity.
Where the Powershred 125Ci stands out is its ability to tackle up to 20 papers at a time and its extra-large 14-gallon wastebasket, allowing you to go longer between emptying than most shredders. This saves a significant amount of time in its own right. It even comes with an LED indicator letting you know when it’s ready to be emptied.
With its continuous-run design that eliminates the need for constant cool-down periods, this is an ideal shredder for medical facilities that have to shred hundreds or thousands of papers and documents a day.
While we’re not convinced that ideal’s 2465 cross-cut paper shredder is powerful enough to justify its price tag, it is an incredibly efficient machine, capable of shredding 324 pages per minute and offering ultimate shredder security.
While the ideal 2465 can only shred 9 to 11 documents at a time, it does so at tremendous speed. Even better, it is designed for continuous operation and doesn’t require cooling periods during reasonable use. When you couple the fast-shredding capabilities and its runtime, you could conceivably shred 15,000 or more papers in a single hour.
This is an expensive shredder to be sure, and smaller offices and companies will probably not need something of its size, caliber, or price. But for hospitals, law firms or companies that deal with thousands of shredded documents every day, the time saved by using ideal may be worth the price after all.
Only the most demanding have need of the Fellowes Powershred 225Mi paper shredder. It’s very expensive, but its performance is top-notch. Like the Powershred 125Ci, the 225Mi has a large capacity – in this case, 16 rather than 14 gallons.
The shredder comes with a two-year warranty, as well as a seven-year warranty on the cutter itself. Its ability to execute 20 sheet cross-cut passes enables continuous operation. Like all Evershred products, Fellowes shredder is capable of unblocking paper jams with several intuitive technologies.
There’s no doubt Fellowes Powershred is a great shredder, but in our opinion, its performance isn’t so great as to justify the massive price leap from the 125Ci to the 225Mi. If you do need an industrial-grade shredder, the ideal 2465 is a better pick.
No business should be without a paper shredder, and there isn’t any good reason not to own one. With cheap, household options available for as little as $30, you can save a fortune and protect yourself from liability.
Whether you need a smaller shredder like the Swingline (the best budget shredder), a professional-grade shredder like the Royal 1840MX, or a true industrial shredder like ideal 2465, you are sure to find the right shredder for your needs here.
We hope this rundown was useful to you and that you found your ideal shredder, whether you searched for cross-cut shredders, micro-cut paper shredders to tackle up to eight sheets, or any other type of paper shredder.
Disclosure: The product recommendations are not sponsored and are chosen by our editorial staff. We may earn an affiliate commission when you purchase an item through our links.
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