Shredder Basics 101

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It’s really important to choose the right shredder for your business.  With the rise of identity theft, hacking into company computer systems, and privacy laws, shredding is more important than ever to protect your business. 

Many companies buy inexpensive shredders thinking that they don’t need anything more, or that they just don’t want to spend the money for an expensive machine - but that can be a costly mistake.  You need to choose a machine based on the type and security level of documents that you are shredding, and how much usage the machine will have each day.  If you buy a shredder that can’t handle the daily usage you give it, you will burn it out and end up spending more money to purchase another one.  If you shred sensitive documents on the wrong kind of shredder, you are opening up your business to potential dangers.

There are four different shred styles – strip-cut, cross-cut, micro-cut and high security -each of which offers different levels of security. Let’s take a look at them one by one.

Strip cut vs. cross-cut Find strip-cut shredders here and cross-cut shredders here.

Strip cut vs. cross-cut

Find strip-cut shredders here and cross-cut shredders here.

Find micro-cut shredders here and high-security shredders here.

Find micro-cut shredders here and high-security shredders here.

Strip-Cut – does exactly what the name implies.  It cuts the paper into thin strips.  These strips are large enough that they could be reassembled into a whole document; therefore, this type of shredder is not good for personal or confidential information.  Strip-cut is low security and is best suited for personal/home use for documents with nonsensitive information. 

Cross-Cut – cuts the paper into small pieces, like confetti.  For this reason, they are often referred to as “confetti-cut” shredders.  These machines will offer medium security.  They are good for home users or small businesses for shredding things like bank statements, credit card applications, or documents that have social security numbers on them.  They can’t handle as many sheets at one time as a strip-cut model can, but they make up for that with the increased level of security. 

Micro-Cut – cuts the paper into even smaller pieces (length and width) than a cross-cut machine.  Micro-cuts are considered to be medium-to-high security.  Businesses would use this type of shredder to handle sensitive documents and confidential information such as H.R. records, financial or legal information, or customer information.

High Security – cuts the paper into confetti-like pieces, just like the cross-cut and micro-cut, but even smaller and thinner.  They offer the highest level of security you can buy.  These pieces are pretty much impossible to reassemble. This shredder would be used for the most sensitive/classified documents in your company. 

Now that you have chosen your shred style, you need to look at the usage.  If you don’t use it many times during the day and you don’t shred many pages, a light-duty shredder will work for you.  For moderate use (up to 50 times/day), a medium-duty machine is good.  If your business does a lot of shredding, you need either a heavy-duty or continuous-duty model.  The continuous-duty shredders are designed for large companies that have multiple users shredding pretty much all day long.  Combine your usage type with the appropriate shred style and you have the correct type of shredder for your business.

While the shred style and usage levels are the important considerations, you may also want to look at some of the special features that are offered – like whether it can handle paper clips, staples, credit cards, and CDs.  Some manufacturers offer jam-proof shredders.  Many have auto-reverse, which means that, when a jam occurs, the machine automatically reverses the direction of the paper to keep the jam from getting worse.

Last, but definitely not least, remember to buy shredder oil. Shredders should be oiled frequently in order to keep them in good working order and slow the wear on the cutters.  Check to see what kind of oil the manufacturer recommends – all oils are not created equal and using the wrong kind of oil can actually damage your machine.  Manufacturers will not honor the warranty if the machine is not properly maintained, so protect your investment! 

Still need help deciding?  Call us at 877-795-2600 and one of our customer service representatives will help you pick the right shredder for your needs.

Until next time!