Choosing the Best Home Office Paper Shredder

One of the fastest growing crimes in today’s world is that of personal identity theft which in turn has lead to the necessity for homeowners to invest in a home office paper shredder for their house, home offices or small business. It seems that daily, there is another horror story in the news about someone loosing thousands because a thief got a hold of their credit card or bank details. Many of us neglect to do the simplest of things with regards to disposing of bills and bank statements leaving ourselves vulnerable to these thieves.

When it comes to buying the best paper shredder for your needs, how do you know which of the many makes and models is going to be suitable. Shredding machines come in all different shapes and sizes. Some strip cut while others cross and confetti cut. Then there is low volume, heavy duty, some with waste bags while others have bins. Here is a quick review and some tips to make your buying decision a little easier.

Strip Cut Paper Shredders

At the lowest end of the scale are strip cut paper shredders. You feed in paper sheets through the opening or throat and out come long, narrow strips of paper. However, there are still a few variations on a theme. For instance you will want a system that has a throat wide enough to accommodate all the sizes of paper that you need to shred. To that end, consider not limiting yourself to a shredder that only slices A4 or foolscap size paper. There will be times when you will need to destroy larger quantities of larger sizes.

Think about whether you will be shredding a few sheets per day or dozens. Most cheap personal shredders are rated for around one hundred sheets per day but those ratings are normally only applicable to a brand new machine. Since shredders are mechanical in nature, parts will wear and when they do, their tolerances and function decrease. Before long, they will only cut some 75% to 50% of their new rated capacity. Unless the price is low enough to make it worthwhile to replace the machine often, buy a little more shredding capacity than you think you will need.

Shredding capacity also refers to the number of papers that you can put through at one time. Consequently, go for a machine that can shred several sheets simultaneously without jamming or dulling the blades. Here again capacity can be overstated in as much that a machine rated for 6 to 8 sheets will realistically only cut 4 to 5 after a few months of use. This number is especially subject to marketing manipulation since it depends very much on the thickness of the paper shredded. 24 bond paper is thicker than 20 bond so you will need to take into account what you will be shredding most and buy enough capacity to suit your needs.

Strip cut shredders are the standard, low volume, personal type available online or at ordinary office supply stores. Strip widths vary from 1/2 to 1/8 inch or less and, naturally, the narrower the strip the more secure provided that the strips are cut perpendicular to the line of type. Strips cut parallel to sentences are very easy to re-assemble.

Since most people will not pay too much attention to the way they feed sheets and the fact that even vertical strips can still be easily put back together, the next step up in terms of security are cross cut shredders. These machines cut paper horizontally and vertically in one pass. Feed the paper normally and dual sets of blades slice the paper into small confetti shaped rectangles.

Cross Cut Paper Shredders

Cross cut shredders do cost more and require a little more maintenance in the sense that the two sets of cutting blades require oiling from time to time. However, they offer considerably enhanced security, since the pieces are nearly impossible to put back together. Also, since they are small pieces rather than long strips, the shredded bulk compresses much better. That means less time spent emptying the basket or waste bag.

The same recommendations that apply to strip cutters should also be considered with cross cut shredders. Buy enough volume capacity to minimize the time needed to shred documents. And make sure you get one that can confetti cut several sheets at once without jamming.

Which type you choose will, naturally, depend on your volume and security needs as well as your budget. But don’t be penny wise and pound foolish. In this age of identity theft and credit card fraud, spending a little more now could save you hundreds of dollars and major hassles down the line.

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