Some still think of paper shredders as mainly for use in business, government, and healthcare facilities where sensitive documents must be shredded to comply with privacy laws. As cases of identity theft soar, though, there is a renewed demand for the best paper shredder for home offices.
Do you need one to shred credit cards? Stacks of documents? Just an occasional paper or two? The best paper shredder for you depends on those and other particulars including your budget, office space, and document sensitivity. Consider the following list of the top-rated paper shredders and choose one that best suits your needs.
- BEST OVERALL: Aurora AU870MA High-Security 8-Sheet Shredder
- RUNNER-UP: Fellowes Powershred 79Ci 100% Jam Proof Shredder
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Aurora AS420C Desktop-Style Cross-Cut Paper Shredder
- HEAVY-DUTY PICK: Bonsaii 18-Sheet Heavy Duty EverShred C-149C Shredder
- BEST FOR FAST SHREDDING: Aurora JamFree AU2030XA 20-Sheet Crosscut Shredder
- BEST FOR SENSITIVE FILES: Wolverine 15-Sheet Super Micro Cut Shredder
- HONORABLE MENTION: AmazonBasics 6-Sheet High-Security Paper Shredder
The Most Common Types of Paper Shredders
Strip-cut is the most basic security paper shredder, which cuts the paper into vertical strips that can be reassembled with some effort. Due to the simple cut, these shredders can tackle high volumes of material. Although they aren’t the best option for personal documents, these shredders are perfect for quick and easy shredding of non-sensitive material. Strip-cut shredders are also the most affordable style and require the least ongoing maintenance, which makes them a good choice for basic personal office use.
The cross-cut style of paper shredder is the most popular because it offers medium-level security at an affordable price. Cross-cut paper shredders cut both vertically and horizontally. That makes it incredibly difficult to piece together the document fragments. These paper shredders are classified as medium-security, which makes them ideal for businesses and home offices where confidential documents are shredded. A cross-cut paper shredder is faster than a micro-cut shredder (discussed below) but slower than a strip-cut. You need to do a bit of manufacturer-suggested maintenance to keep a cross-cut shredder functional.
Micro-cut paper shredders are capable of shredding documents into an average of 2,000 particles. This high level of security means that once a document is shredded it is nearly impossible to reassemble. These paper shredders are best for shredding highly confidential documents including contracts, medical documents, or government documents. However, keep in mind that a micro-cut paper shredder costs more and takes longer to shred documents.
What to Consider When Buying a Paper Shredder
Before you purchase a paper shredder, get to know the various features so you can choose the one that’s right for your home office.
Consider the space where your paper shredder will live and how often you plan to empty it. The bins of strip-cut paper shredders fill up quickly, because the paper bends and folds. Shredders that cut the paper into smaller particles require smaller bins for the same amount of paper.
Paper shredders with small bins fit on or under desks, so they take up minimal office space, but you must frequently empty them. Larger paper shredders take up more space, but their increased bin capacity allows you to shred many more documents before emptying.
The page capacity of a paper shredder refers to the maximum number of sheets that you can pass through it at one time. If you insert more pages than recommended, the shredder may jam. Shredder page capacity ranges from 1 to more than 100. Paper shredders that accept 100 or more pages automatically pull page after page through the blades until all the documents are shredded. This feature lets you walk away and leave the shredder to its work.
All shredders have run-times, which means they will overheat if you try to run them longer than the manufacturer recommends. A shredder with a low run-time, such as two minutes, won’t be effective for high-volume use but may work well for more occasional needs.
A paper shredder with a run-time of at least five minutes is generally acceptable for home offices. If you regularly shred multiple documents, select a paper shredder with a long run-time. Some heavy-duty paper shredders can run for an hour or more, but will also have much longer cooldown periods before you can use them again.
A paper shredder’s security level is determined by the size of the paper particles after shredding. Security can be broken down into the three paper shredder types––strip-cut is the least secure, cross-cut offers a medium level of security, and micro-cut is the most secure.
Manufacturers classify shredder security using DIN P-Levels from 1 to 7: the higher the number, the more secure. DIN P-1 is the least secure while DIN P-7 is the most secure.
Paper shredders are so simple to use you may forget they can be dangerous. That’s why manufacturers often include safety features, such as automatic shutoff or jam protection, to keep you and your shredder safe.
- Automatic shutoff: The automatic shutoff function on a paper shredder is designed to turn off the shredder when a hand touches the feeder slot or if the shredder begins to overheat. The shredder will remain shut down until the motor has cooled and it senses no hands are near the feeder slot.
- Jam protection: Paper shredders are designed to shred a specific number of pages or documents at one time. The feed can jam if the documents are unexpectedly thick, there are more documents than recommended, or if staples and other materials are left in the paper. A jam protection feature stops the intake of materials and reverses the paper direction. This automatic action allows you to remove some pages or any non-paper objects like paper clips.
Our Top Picks
No matter what type of paper shredder you purchase, choose the one that best fits your needs. Consider the top-rated paper shredders below.
The Aurora AU870MA High-Security 8-Sheet Micro-Cut Paper Shredder finely shreds bank statements, medical records, and other confidential documents including credit cards to a medium-security level of P-4. This shredder has a 3.9-gallon bin for paper storage before disposal and features a five-minute continuous run-time and 30-minute cooldown period. You can shred up to eight sheets of paper at one time or feed credit cards through the shredder to thoroughly destroy them. The shredder weighs just 11.68 pounds and measures 7.13 inches high, 11.81 inches wide, and 16.1 inches deep, so it fits easily in a relatively small home office.
Features include thermal protection that automatically shuts down the machine if it starts to overheat and jam protection to stop the intake of paper and allow you to reverse the feed of the material.
The Fellowes Powershred 79Ci 100% Jam Proof Medium-Duty Cross Shredder is ideal for a shared home office because it operates at an ultra-quiet noise level and shreds documents with P-4 medium security. This machine is a bit larger than some competitors. It weighs in at just over 28 pounds and measures 21.31 inches high, 15.38 inches wide, and 10.44 inches deep. Its SafeSense technology stops the shredder if it senses hands, paws, tails, noses, or ears near the paper feeder. That feature alone makes this one of the best home office shredders available.
This cross-cut paper shredder boasts a 100 percent jam-proof system that detects impending jams, automatically stops the paper feeder, and reverses the material. The feeder then automatically pulls the material back in and through with increased power to shred up to 16 pages in a single pass. You can shred documents for 20 minutes into the roomy 6-gallon pull out waste bin, but the machine then requires a 30-minute cooldown.
This Aurora desktop-style paper shredder is an affordable option that weighs only half a pound and measures a slight 9 inches high, 7 inches wide, and 10 inches deep. Despite its small size, it has a hefty P-4 security rating. The cross-cut shredder takes up to four sheets of paper or one credit card per pass.
This convenient paper shredder comes with a letter opener, a detachable power cord, and a 1.32-gallon waste bin for particle collection and disposal. The paper shredder only has a two-minute run-time, though, so it’s not practical if you shred a lot of documents every day. A thermal protection feature automatically stops the shredder if it begins to overheat to protect the machine’s motor.
As the Bonsaii 18-Sheet Heavy Duty EverShred’s name implies, this shredder is ready for big jobs. It features a cross-cut paper shredder, a 6-gallon bin capacity, and a one hour continuous run time. It shreds both credit cards and paper, even those with staples or paper clips, to a medium P-4 security level. It automatically stops when a jam is detected and auto-reverses to clear it. You can feed up to 18 sheets in a single pass into this 23-pound shredder, which measures 14.17 inches, 11.22 inches wide, and 21.46 inches deep.
An auto-off feature disables the feeder if there is the danger of overheating. This shredder also stops you from feeding too many documents into it. The overload protection feature disables the feeder until the volume of material meets the paper shredder’s sheet requirements.
The Aurora JamFree AU2030XA 20-Sheet Crosscut-Cut Paper quickly shreds high volumes of paper to a medium P-4 security level. The paper shredder can operate for up to 60 continuous minutes and allows you to feed 20 sheets at one time into the 7-gallon bin. It’s housed in a 36 1/2-pound body that measures 14.65 inches high, 19.06 inches wide, and 28.19 inches deep.
The cross-cut paper shredder also shreds credit cards, staples, and small paper clips. Jam protection automatically stops the feeder and reverses to clear the jam. The shredder uses a sensor to detect hands near the operating feeder and automatically shuts off until it’s clear.
When you shred paper with this Wolverine model, the particles are a minuscule P-5, nudging toward the top level of security. You can feed 15 sheets of paper in at a time and shred continuously for 15 minutes. The durable paper shredder weighs a hefty 56.9 pounds and measures 15.8 inches high, 12.2 inches wide, and 26.1 inches deep. It has a pull-out 8-gallon waste bin, shreds staples, paper clips, CDs, DVDs, and credit cards, and uses thermal protection to automatically shut down the paper shredder when it senses it may overheat. Jam protection allows it to detect, reverse, and clear paper clogs.
The AmazonBasics 6-Sheet High Security Micro-Cut Paper and Credit Card Home Office Shredder is designed to shred up to six sheets of paper at once with no need to remove staples or small paper clips. You can also shred credit cards, CDs, or DVDs into medium security P-4 particles. The machine weighs just 9.7 pounds and measures a petite 12.76 inches high, 7.32 inches wide, and 15.94 inches deep. It uses an auto-start function to pull material into the feeder for shredding and a reverse function to clear jams. It also has an auto-off thermal protection feature that shuts down the feeder to prevent the motor from overheating. One caveat, though: This shredder’s continuous run time is just three minutes, requiring a lengthy 30 minute cool-down period between shredding sessions.
FAQs To Choose Your New Paper Shredder
Before you select a paper shredder, consider the answers to these common questions
Q. How long should a paper shredder last?
The average paper shredder lasts between 5 and 10 years. You can extend the life of your shredder by following the manufacturer’s care and maintenance recommendations.
Q. Which is better, a cross-cut or micro-cut shredder?
A micro-cut shredder is designed to provide a higher level of security than a cross-cut shredder. The micro-cut shredder cuts a single document into an average of 2,000 particles. A cross-cut shredder cuts documents into about 400 particles. A cross-cut shredder is more affordable and shreds documents at a faster rate. The best option for you depends on your security needs and budget.
Q. Can paper shredders handle paper clips and staples?
It depends on the paper shredder. If that’s a concern, you should always read the manufacturer’s information to verify that the paper shredder is rated to handle such alternative materials.