The Best Paper Shredders Tested in 2023

Explore some of the best paper shredder options for safely disposing of sensitive materials, including medical records, financial information, and private documents.

Best Overall

The Best Paper Shredder Option: Aurora AU1210MA 12-Sheet Microcut Paper Shredder

Aurora AU1210MA 12-Sheet Microcut Paper Shredder

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Runner-Up

The Best Paper Shredder Option: Fellowes 100% Jam-Proof Crosscut Paper Shredder

Fellowes 100% Jam-Proof Crosscut Paper Shredder

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Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Paper Shredder Option: Aurora AS420C 4-Sheet Crosscut Paper Shredder

Aurora AS420C 4-Sheet Crosscut Paper Shredder

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Paper shredders were once primarily used in business, government, and health care facilities where sensitive documents had to be destroyed to comply with privacy laws. But as identity theft concerns continue to rise, many people rely on paper shredders in personal spaces like home offices. These shredders dispose of private records, junk mail, and paper documents.

We tested a group of the most popular paper shredders in our home office, using them on documents, CDs, DVDs, and even some credit cards. We ranked them based on how thoroughly they destroyed sensitive materials as well as price, size, and capacity. Based on our results, the following models earned a spot on our lineup of the best paper shredders for most users.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Aurora AU1210MA 12-Sheet Microcut Paper Shredder
  2. RUNNER-UP: Fellowes 100% Jam-Proof Crosscut Paper Shredder
  3. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Aurora AS420C 4-Sheet Crosscut Paper Shredder
  4. HEAVY-DUTY PICK: Bonsaii 18-Sheet Heavy-Duty Paper Shredder
  5. BEST HIGH-CAPACITY: Aurora AU2030XA 20-Sheet Crosscut Paper Shredder
  6. BEST FOR HOME USE: Bonsen 8-Sheet Crosscut Paper Shredder
  7. ALSO CONSIDER: Aurora AU870MA High-Security 8-Sheet Paper Shredder
The best paper shredder option next to a stack of paper and a pile of paper that's been shredded
Photo: Glenda Taylor for Bob Vila

How We Tested the Best Paper Shredders

Before choosing which paper shredders to test, we researched over 35 best-selling models. We looked at different price ranges and focused on models with high ratings and positive customer reviews. We gave extra consideration to the Aurora brand since it’s well known in the document-shredding world. Still, we did not automatically eliminate other brands if their models demonstrated excellent performance and were crafted with quality materials.

In actual testing, we shredded documents, letters, and paper products to observe how well each model handled the recommended maximum number of sheets. For models designed to destroy additional materials, we tested their capabilities using CDs, DVDs, and credit cards.

We measured noise levels using a decibel tester a few feet away from the operating machine. Additionally, we recorded any instances of jams and noted if the shredders automatically reversed and cleared the blockages. We also monitored and recorded overheating during testing.

We noted the waste bin size for each machine and evaluated for practicality and convenience. To assess performance objectively, we used a rubric to grade each model, awarding points based on efficiency and functionality. After testing, we averaged the scores to determine each model’s ideal application.

Our Top Picks

Ultimately, the best paper shredder for you will depend on what you need to shred and the level of security you’re looking for. The following list of paper shredders varies in cost and intended use, but each one earned its spot on our lineup by excelling in our hands-on tests.

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With a P-4 security rating, the Aurora AU1210MA paper shredder transformed our documents into tiny confetti-like particles. (See the Security Level section below for an in-depth description of security ratings.) It effortlessly handled the manufacturer’s recommended 12-sheet paper stack without jamming, as well as CDs and credit cards. We even tested it by not removing staples from some papers, and it still operated without jamming.

We used a decibel tester and measured the noise level from a distance of 2 feet away while the shredder was running, and it produced a moderate 76.9 decibels—comparable to the noise level of a vacuum. It’s not silent, but neither is it annoyingly loud.

We wanted to test the machine’s advertised ability to clear jams, so we ran a stack of 20 sheets of paper through. The AU1210MA jammed as expected, but then it automatically reversed direction and cleared the blockage—we didn’t have to do anything. The Aurora showed no signs of overheating throughout about 1.5 hours of near-continuous testing.

This shredder has a generous 5-gallon waste bin that slides out from the front for convenient dumping. However, with its tall, narrow design and grinding head that weighs about 22 pounds, this unit is slightly top-heavy—a potential tipping hazard—warranting caution in households with small children who might attempt to climb on it. Overall, this is an excellent shredder for anyone looking for a high degree of security.

Product Specs 

  • Type: Microcut
  • Page capacity: 12 sheets
  • Security level: P-4
  • Shreds: Paper, CDs, DVDs, credit cards, small paper clips

Pros

  • High-security microcutting; renders tiny 5/32 inch long by 15/32 inch wide shreds
  • Versatile operation; destroys CDs and DVDs in addition to shredding paper
  • Auto-reverse feature senses paper jams and intuitively reverses to clear jams
  • Slide-out 5-gallon bin holds ample waste, reducing the need for frequent dumping

Cons

  • Top-heavy design may pose a tipping risk, particularly in households with small children

Get the Aurora 12-sheet paper shredder at Amazon or Walmart.

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With a 16-sheet paper capacity, the Fellowes jam-proof shredder is efficient and effective. One standout feature is its quiet operation, measuring just 59.7 decibels on our decibel tester—a level comparable to normal conversation. This makes it ideal for shared work spaces where minimizing distractions is essential. Additionally, the oversize 6-gallon waste bin provides ample space for shredded materials, reducing the frequency of required emptying.

The Fellowes shredder comes with SafeSense technology, which immediately stopped the shredder when we touched the rim of the feeder opening with our hands. We really liked this feature because it offers peace of mind, especially in households with children or pets.

We pushed the shredder’s limits by shredding several old CDs and DVDs, and it didn’t miss a beat. We then attempted to shred a thicker-than-recommended stack of 22 sheets of paper, and it jammed. The auto-reverse function immediately took over, reversed the paper, and cleared the jam.

This is a powerful machine, but it overheated after about 25 minutes of sustained use. A warning light on the control panel came on, and we had to wait about 15 minutes before it cooled down sufficiently to resume testing. While this cooldown period might not be an issue for most users, it’s essential to be aware of it if you plan on prolonged shredding sessions.

In terms of design, the Fellowes shredder is slightly heftier than some competitors, weighing just over 28 pounds. While its size and weight make it slightly less portable, we found it to be durable and sturdy, making it an asset to any small or home office.

Product Specs 

  • Type: Crosscut
  • Paper capacity: 16 sheets
  • Security level: P-4
  • Shreds: Paper, CDs, DVDs, credit cards, small paper clips, staples

Pros

  • Large 6-gallon collection bin reduces the need for frequent emptying
  • SafeSense technology detects hands near the feeder and stops the machine
  • Jam-proof system detects jams and reverses to clear away blockages

Cons

  • At 28 pounds, the shredder is on the heavy side, so it’s best kept in a single location

Get the Fellowes paper shredder at Amazon, Walmart, or Sam’s Club.

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The budget-friendly Aurora AS420C is a compact and convenient solution for light shredding needs. This model accommodates four sheets of paper at once, but it’s important to note it can handle only two letter-size sheets because you’ll need to fold the sheets lengthwise to fit into the machine’s feeder slot. Its lightweight design (about 6 pounds) makes it portable and easy to carry. While it effectively shreds credit cards, it cannot destroy CDs or DVDs.

An obvious limitation of this shredder is its runtime: It operated continuously for about 5 minutes before it overheated. Following this, it required a cooldown period of approximately 15 minutes before we could start testing again. Consequently, it likely won’t suit larger offices with heavier shredding needs. However, it is a practical solution for personal use or small home offices where you want to occasionally shred a paper or two.

We added two extra sheets of paper during testing, and the shredder jammed. Although the Aurora AS420C doesn’t have an auto-jam clearing function, we switched it into reverse, which brought the paper back out and cleared the jam. The Aurora AS420C comes with a 1.32-gallon waste bin, which is relatively small and necessitates more frequent emptying. However, its compact size makes it ideal for desktop use or storage on a shelf beside the printer. It boasts a P-3 security rating, which is sufficient protection for most sensitive documents.

Product Specs 

  • Type: Crosscut
  • Page capacity: 4 sheets
  • Security level: P-3
  • Shreds: Paper, credit cards

Pros

  • Compact size makes it ideal for desktop use in small home offices
  • Features a thermal protection mechanism that shuts the shredder off if overheating
  • Includes a letter opener and detachable power cord for added versatility

Cons

  • Small-capacity collection bin may make it necessary to empty the bin frequently
  • Only operates continuously for a few minutes and then requires about 15 minutes to cool down
  • Security level rating is not as high as the other shredders we tested

Get the Aurora 4-sheet paper shredder at Amazon or Walmart.

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With an 18-sheet capacity, the Bonsaii shredder quickly destroys sensitive documents. The shredder comes with a generous 6-gallon waste bin, so we could shred dozens of sheets before emptying the bin. The Bonsaii also shredded CDs and credit cards without any issues.

We tested the Bonsaii continuously for about an hour, and in that time, it never overheated. We put our hands on the outside of the grinding head and felt some warmth, but the overheated light never came on—not even when we tried to run a stack of 25 sheets through. The overloaded sheets jammed the shredder, but the machine automatically reversed and cleared the jam. During testing, the noise level reached a comfortable 62.3 decibels, which we found very tolerable.

Initially, we had a little trouble getting the bin back into place after emptying. We thought we’d replaced it, but the machine would not run. It took about 10 minutes of troubleshooting to determine that the Bonsaii has a safety feature and the motor will not operate if the bin isn’t installed correctly. Though it wasn’t visibly out of place, we pushed the bin in firmly, and the machine turned back on.

We also ran into an issue when we inadvertently shredded some junk mail that included a return envelope with a plastic window. The heat from the grinding blades melted the plastic, resulting in a burnt plastic smell, and we had to scrape some plastic residue from the blades manually. To be fair, that was a user error, but likely one that others could easily make.

Overall, the Bonsaii paper shredder was impressive and durable—capable of handling heavy-duty shredding tasks. Its large waste bin, extended runtime, and jam-proof operation make it an excellent choice for busy office use.

Product Specs 

  • Type: Crosscut
  • Page capacity: 18 sheets
  • Security level: P-4
  • Shreds: Paper, CDs, DVDs, credit cards, small paper clips, staples

Pros

  • Large 6-gallon capacity waste bin reduces the need for frequent emptying
  • Accommodates up to 18 sheets of paper at once without jamming
  • Auto reverses and clears paper jams on its own
  • Destroys CDs, DVDs, and credit cards in addition to paper

Cons

  • Waste bin must be pushed all the way in or the shredder will not run

Get the Bonsaii paper shredder at Amazon, Walmart, or Bonsaii.

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The Aurora AU2030XA shredder quickly shreds high volumes of paper to a P-4 security level. With an impressive 20-sheet capacity, this shredder effortlessly handles large stacks of paper, making it ideal for busy work environments. It consistently performed well during our testing, ensuring secure and fast shredding of paper, CDs, DVDs, and credit cards.

One of the standout features of the AU2030XA is its jam-free operation. Even when we deliberately fed 30 sheets of paper, successfully jamming it, the shredder automatically reversed and cleared the jam. Another handy feature is its TouchGuard safety function: If we touched the metal strip at the mouth of the feeder while the machine was operating, the shredding immediately stopped.

The sizable 7-gallon waste bin provides plenty of space for shredded materials, reducing the frequency of required emptying and enhancing overall user convenience. Furthermore, the shredder operates quietly, reaching a noise level of only 62 decibels, ensuring a relatively noise-free work environment. This is a pretty beefy office machine, weighing almost 42 pounds, but it comes with optional castor wheels that can make it more portable if desired.

Product Specs

  • Type: Crosscut
  • Page capacity: 20 sheets
  • Security level: P-4
  • Shreds: Paper, credit cards, CDs, DVDs, small paper clips, staples

Pros

  • Impressive 20-sheet capacity for fast and efficient bulk shredding
  • Automatic paper-jam protection; machine stops, reverses, and clears jams
  • TouchGuard safety sensor detects hands near the feeder and stops the machine
  • Quiet operation (62 decibels) won’t bother other workers or family members

Cons

  • Heavy at 41.89 pounds, although it comes with optional caster wheels for portability

Get the Aurora 20-sheet paper shredder at Amazon, Walmart, or Office Depot.

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The Bonsen eight-sheet crosscut paper shredder is a semi-compact practical shredding solution for home use. With an eight-sheet capacity, this shredder handles moderate amounts of paper, making it suitable for personal and small home office needs. During our testing, it demonstrated consistent and reliable performance, effectively shredding documents and sensitive materials.

The Bonsen handled an eight-sheet stack quickly, but it jammed when we added just one more sheet. Since it doesn’t feature an automatic jam-clearing function, we had to manually switch it into reverse mode, which brought the stack back up and out and cleared the jam. We also noticed it tended to overheat within about 7 to 9 minutes, requiring 15 minutes to cool down.

This shredder registered 64 decibels on our tester—pretty good for helping maintain a relatively quiet work environment. It has a security rating of P-4 and uses a crosscut mechanism that slices the pages into tiny pieces. Additionally, it can shred credit cards without issue, adding to its versatility. It does not, however, destroy CDs or DVDs.

The compact design of the Bonsen shredder makes it easy to tuck into small spaces, and we feel it’s a practical addition to any home office setup. If we could change one thing, we’d opt for a pull-out bin rather than lifting the grinding head off to empty the bin. It’s a small thing, but it would make the shredder more user-friendly.

Product Specs 

  • Type: Crosscut
  • Page capacity: 8 sheets
  • Security level: P-4
  • Shreds: Paper, credit cards, thin staples

Pros

  • Compact and practical design fits in small spaces and is great for home use
  • Features a reverse function so you can clear paper jams easily
  • In addition to shredding paper, it shreds thin staples and credit cards

Cons

  • Limited 8-sheet capacity may not be sufficient for heavy shredding needs of a large office
  • Overheats when run continuously for more than about 9 minutes

Get the Bonsen paper shredder at Amazon or Walmart

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The Aurora AU870MA is a robust shredder that stands out for its microcut functionality. With its high-security shredding ability, this model provides enhanced data protection by transforming paper into tiny particles, making it highly challenging to reassemble sensitive documents.

During our testing, the AU870MA demonstrated consistent performance, quickly handling up to eight sheets of paper simultaneously. The machine didn’t jam until we tried to run 12 sheets through. It was just too much for the blades, which came to a grinding halt. Using the shredder’s reverse function, we were able to reverse the blades and clear the jam.

The AU870MA’s microcut feature ensures maximum security for personal and confidential information, and we were surprised to find it on a machine that sells at an affordable price point. The security level is still within the P-4 range, but the shreds are tinier than what the P-4 crosscut models produced. The shredder did overheat after about 15 minutes of continued use, though, and it took nearly 30 minutes to cool down sufficiently for more testing.

This shredder can also shred credit cards but doesn’t destroy CDs or DVDs. Its compact design allows it to fit well in smaller spaces, making it a practical addition to any office setup. We didn’t love lifting off the grinding head (which weighs just over 9 pounds) to empty the 3.96-gallon bin, but other than that, it’s a reliable option for those who want especially secure shredding.

Product Specs 

  • Type: Microcut
  • Page capacity: 8 sheets
  • Security level: P-4
  • Shreds: Paper, credit cards, thin staples

Pros

  • Microcut shredding for enhanced data protection of sensitive information
  • Capable of shredding up to 8 sheets of paper at one time; also destroys credit cards
  • Compact design fits into small spaces; good for home offices or lower-volume workplaces

Cons

  • No slide-out bin; users must lift up 9-pound grinding head to empty

Get the Aurora 8-sheet paper shredder at Amazon or Walmart.

Jump to Our Top Picks

What to Consider When Choosing a Paper Shredder

Before purchasing a paper shredder, learn about their various features and determine which ones are best suited for your security needs.

Size

Consider the space where this floor or desk accessory will live and how often it will be used and emptied. Bins of strip-cut paper shredders fill quickly because the paper bends and folds. Shredders that cut the paper into smaller crosscut or microcut particles require smaller bins for the same amount of paper.

A compact shredder with a small bin will fit on or under most desks, so it takes up minimal office space, but small paper shredders must be emptied frequently. Larger paper shredders take up more space, but their increased bin capacity allows you to shred more documents before emptying.

Page Capacity

The page capacity of a paper shredder refers to the maximum number of sheets that can pass through it at one time. If inserting more pages than recommended, the shredder may jam. Shredder page capacity ranges from one to more than 100.

Paper shredders that accept 100 or more pages often 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.

Runtime

All shredders have runtimes, which means they will overheat if trying to run them longer than their runtime. The manufacturer doesn’t always specify a runtime, and in our hands-on testing, we found each machine’s runtime to be different. A shredder with a low runtime, such as 2 minutes, won’t be practical for high-volume use but could still work well for occasional needs.

A paper shredder with a runtime of at least 5 minutes is generally acceptable for home offices. Select a paper shredder with a long runtime if regularly shredding multiple documents. Some heavy-duty paper shredders can run for an hour or more, but they will also have extended cooldown periods before they can be used again. We found the typical cooldown period was about 15 to 30 minutes.

Security Level

A paper shredder’s security level is determined by the size of the paper particles produced during shredding. There are three main types of paper shredders based on security: strip-cut, crosscut, and microcut. Strip-cut shredders provide the least security, crosscut machines offer a medium level, and microcut shredders deliver a higher level of security.

Manufacturers use a P-number system to classify shredder security, with the numbers ranging from 1 to 7. A higher P-number indicates a more secure shredder. P-1 represents the least secure level, while P-7 represents the highest level of security.

All the shredders we tested fall into the P-3 and P-4 range, although there is room for variation within those ratings. For example, the microcut shredders we tested were more secure than the crosscut shredders, but in some instances, both were rated P-4. The microcut shredders would earn a P-5 rating if they produced even smaller bits.

Safety Features

Operating paper shredders may seem simple, but it’s important to remember that they can pose risks. Manufacturers often incorporate essential safety features into their designs to enhance user safety.

  • Automatic shutoff: This vital function automatically powers off the shredder if a hand comes into contact with the feeder slot or the shredder begins to overheat. The shredder remains shut down until the motor cools down or detects no hands near the feeder slot.
  • Jam protection: Paper shredders have a specific capacity for the number of pages or documents they can shred at once. Jams can occur when the documents are thicker than expected, exceed the recommended quantity, or nonpaper items like staples are left in. To address this, a jam-protection feature stops the intake of materials and reverses the paper’s direction, allowing you to remove excess pages or any nonpaper objects, such as paper clips.
The best paper shredder option in the process of shedding a sheet of paper
Photo: Glenda Taylor for Bob Vila

Types of Paper Shredders

A paper shredder offers a convenient solution for safely disposing of sensitive printed information. When choosing one, it’s crucial to consider the different types available, such as strip-cut, crosscut, and microcut, to ensure high-quality performance and avoid the inconvenience of paper jams from using a cheap paper shredder.

Strip-cut

The simplest and most basic security paper shredder is the strip-cut type, which cuts paper into vertical strips that could potentially be reassembled with concentrated effort. While these shredders are not ideal for sensitive personal documents, they excel at handling high volumes of material quickly and easily. Their affordability and low maintenance requirements make them popular for basic personal and office use.

Crosscut

The crosscut style of paper shredder is widely favored over strip cutting due to its ability to cut paper vertically and horizontally. Crosscut shredders make it exceedingly challenging to reconstruct document fragments.

These shredders are categorized as medium security, making them well suited for businesses and home offices that handle confidential documents. Crosscut paper shredders offer a faster shredding process than microcut shredders but are slower than strip-cut shredders. Some maintenance is necessary to ensure the proper functioning of a crosscut shredder, which may involve oiling the blades periodically with good lubricating machine oil.

Microcut

Microcut paper shredders can shred documents into tiny confetti-like pieces. This high level of security means that once a document is shredded, it is nearly impossible to reassemble.

Microcut shredders are best for shredding sensitive paperwork, including contracts, medical records, and government documents. However, remember that a microcut paper shredder takes longer to shred documents.

Tips for Using a Paper Shredder

Paper shredders are specifically designed to cut through multiple sheets of paper at once, transforming them into small pieces that are challenging to read, sift through, or reconstruct.

Regular cleaning and lubrication of the blades with lubricating machine oil, such as sewing machine oil, are essential to maintaining optimal performance and preventing issues. Neglecting this maintenance can lead to jams, overheating, and eventual device breakdown.

Moreover, adhering to the recommended page capacity provided with each shredder is crucial. Overloading the machine beyond its capacity forces the motor to work harder, leading to potential overheating or premature wear and tear. Forcing paper into the shredder faster than it can handle may also strain the motor and shorten the machine’s working life.

Incorporating regular maintenance practices, avoiding overloading, and refraining from forcing the paper into the shredder will prolong its overall lifespan, ensuring a reliable and efficient paper-shredding experience.

FAQs

There is a lot to think about when researching the best paper shredder, so review the answers to these common questions before you select a model.

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 crosscut or microcut shredder?

The best option for you depends on your security needs and budget. A microcut shredder provides a higher level of security than a crosscut shredder because the resulting pieces are smaller. On the other hand, a crosscut shredder is usually more affordable and typically shreds documents at a faster rate.

Q. Can paper shredders handle paper clips and staples?

It depends on the paper shredder. Most of the shredders we tested were able to handle thin staples and paper clips, but not all shredders do, so read the description carefully before buying.

Why Trust Bob Vila 

Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series, including “This Old House” and “Bob Vila’s Home Again,” he popularized and became synonymous with “do-it-yourself” home improvement.

Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues today with expert yet accessible home advice. The Bob Vila team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.

Meet the Tester

Glenda Taylor is a product tester and writer specializing in the construction, remodeling, and real estate industries. She and her husband own a general contracting company, and Taylor is experienced in both residential and commercial building applications. She tests a wide range of power tools as well as other home improvement, household, and lawn-and-garden products.

Additional research provided by Timothy Dale.

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Timothy Dale

Contributing Writer

Timothy Dale is a home improvement writer who has been in the industry for several years. In his work for BobVila.com, he has written a number of how-to articles related to yard maintenance, vehicle repair, and home renovation, not to mention a wide variety of buying guides and articles on DIY projects. He always ensures readers get the information they need to tackle their next project.

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