Last updated: 16/10/2022

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Files containing confidential information, such as bank details, should not be thrown away – this is why paper shredders are a great asset in shops, offices or in your own home. They shred papers into tiny particles to make the documents unrecognisable. This means you can dispose of them without worrying about them falling into the wrong hands.

With our big document shredder test 2022 we want to show you which document shredder is best suited for you. We will also compare strip cut, cross cut and particle cut and show you the advantages and disadvantages of each. We will also explain what the type of cut has to do with the security level to make your purchase decision as easy as possible.




The most important facts in brief

  • A paper shredder is a machine that shreds paper into tiny particles. It is designed to make confidential information unrecognisable. A document shredder is particularly appropriate for offices or shops where a lot of paper is thrown away.
  • There are basically five different security levels for document shredders. The lower the security level, the larger the shredded particles. So with a little patience and skill, these could easily be put back together again.
  • If a paper shredder is not cleaned regularly with oil, the cutting edges become blunt and can no longer separate the paper well. There are three different types of cleaning to choose between: Cleaning with spray oil, oil from a bottle or oil paper.

The Best Shredder: Our Choices

Buying and evaluation criteria for document shredders

You will then see which aspects you can use to decide between the many different document shredders.

The criteria you can use to compare the shredders with each other include:

In the following paragraphs, we explain exactly how the different criteria differ and what is important.

Security level

Shredders shred paper into small particles. The security level is based on the size of the shredded pieces. There are seven different security levels. However, shredders with security levels six and seven are mainly used by secret services. For this reason, only five different security levels are used.

The higher the security level, the smaller the shredded pieces.
  1. Security level 1: Security level 1 is the smallest. The shredded pieces of paper are larger and accordingly it is easier to extract information. With a little patience, you could even put them back together. The area can be up to 20 square centimetres.
  2. Security level 2: At security level 2, the pieces are still large enough that information could be read out. It is the highest security level that a strip-cut shredder can achieve. The area reaches a maximum of 8 square centimetres.
  3. Security level 3: Security level 3 is the highest that the cross-cut can achieve. It is very difficult to reassemble the particles. The area reaches a maximum of 3.3 square centimetres.
  4. Security level 4: This security level is the most common. It is almost impossible to extract any information from the particles. The maximum area is 1.6 square centimetres.
  5. Security level 5: This is the highest security level. The paper is shredded so small that it is impossible to read out any information. The maximum area is 0.3 square centimetres.

Shredders with security level 5 are used for highly confidential files. These are mainly large companies or government agencies. However, those with lower security levels are perfectly adequate for unimportant documents.

Area of application

Document shredders are used for both business and private use.

Those used for business have a larger collection volume. This means that there is room for more shredded paper. This means that more people can use it.

Shredders with a small collection volume are good for home use. These are not used all the time and are meant for fewer people.

Cut type

Paper shredders cut papers into small pieces. It can do this in two different ways; With the strip cut or the particle cut, also called cross cut.

As the name suggests, the strip cut cuts the papers into small strips. You can imagine that this type of cut is not suitable for high security levels. At most, it can reach security level 2.

Unlike the strip cut, the particle cut cuts the paper into small rectangles. A big and essential difference is the maximum security level achieved. Shredders with particle cut can easily reach security level 5.

Although the particle cut is often also called cross cut, there is a small difference here: Basically, the cross cut only reaches security level 3. However, the process works exactly the same as with the particle cut.

Sheet capacity

The shredder’s sheet capacity determines how many pages can be shredded at a time. It plays a major role and again it depends on the area in which you need it.

One for private use does not necessarily need a large sheet capacity. It is enough if it can shred ten pages at a time.

On the other hand, a document shredder is used more often in the business sector. It is therefore important that it can shred many pages at once.

Cutting capacity

The greater the cutting capacity, the more a shredder can cut. Most shredders today have a very high cutting capacity.

This means that many can shred not only paper but also plastic cards, CDs or even paper clips.

Weight

The weight varies greatly. There are those that weigh only a few kilograms. Others can weigh up to 90 kilograms.

Heavy shredders often have a larger sheet capacity and are bigger. This means they have a large collection volume. For this reason, they are well suited for shops and offices.

Lighter shredders are best suited for private use.

Volume

Volume is an important factor – even though you might not think so. People often buy shredders for work. If you have a loud machine next door, it reduces your ability to concentrate. It has even been found that external factors can account for up to 50% of performance!

Generally speaking, strip-cut shredders are quieter than cross-cut or particle-cut shredders.

Quiet shredders, however, often have a very low security level. So if you want to buy a quiet one for private use, it is worth getting one with a strip cut.

On the other hand, the low security level can be a disadvantage for companies. Fortunately, there are also shredders with a particle cut that are rather quiet. However, these cost a little more. For companies that want to keep their files secret, however, this investment is worthwhile.

Decision: What types of shredders are there and which one is right for me?

If you want to buy a paper shredder, there are two different types of products you can choose between:

Type Advantages Disadvantages
Strip-cut shredder Quiet, robust and efficient Maximum security level 2
Document shredder with particle cut / cross cut Achieves a higher security level than the strip cut Is relatively loud and can impair the ability to concentrate

In the following sections, we will explain the advantages and disadvantages of the individual product types in detail.

Strip-cut shredders

Strip-cut shredders

The big advantage of the strip-cut shredder is its noise level. As mentioned above, it is very quiet. This makes it easy to place it next to your desk and you will not be distracted while working.

It is also more robust and can shred more sheets at a time. It can also shred CDs or plastic well. Since this shredder only has to cut in one direction, it is also faster and more efficient thanks to the strip cut.

Advantages
  • Very quiet, so good concentration is guaranteed
  • Strong cutting performance. Can shred CDs and credit cards as well as paper
  • Does a fast and efficient job
Disadvantages
  • Can only achieve security level 2
  • Is rather heavy and impractical to transport

Actually, this shredder is good for business use. One disadvantage, however, is that this type of shredder can only achieve security level 2 at most.

In concrete terms, this means that you can still read information out of the cut pieces of paper. So if you need to shred highly confidential information that no one is allowed to read, this shredder is not suitable.

In addition, because it is very robust, it is also rather heavy. This makes it very impractical to transport.

Shredders with particle cut / cross cut

Shredders with particle cut / cross cut

A big plus with these shredders is the security level that can be achieved. But beware: the cross cut does not get higher than security level 3. The particle cut, however, can reach the highest security level and make it impossible to put the small pieces back together. Especially for a company that has strictly confidential data, this shredder is the better alternative.

In addition, this shredder has a larger collection volume. Accordingly, you don’t have to empty it as often and can therefore save time and nerves.

Advantages
  • Can achieve a very high security level
  • Has a large collection volume
  • Is often more modern and easier to use
Disadvantages
  • Makes rather loud noises. Thus, the ability to concentrate can be impaired
  • Is often somewhat more expensive than those with a strip cut

On the other hand, document shredders with particle cut are much louder and slower. Although – or precisely because – it achieves a very high security level, it works less efficiently than those with a strip cut.

They are also often a little more expensive than those with a strip cut. But if you have highly confidential data, it’s worth spending a little more here.

Guide: Frequently asked questions about document shredders answered in detail

In the following sections, we will answer all the frequently asked questions about paper shredders in detail, which we have selected for you. After reading the guide, you will know all the important background information about them.

What is a paper shredder?

A paper shredder is a machine that shreds paper files into small pieces. Many can also shred plastic or CDs. They are also called shredders or paper shredders.

There are different security levels of paper shredder. Smaller security levels cut the paper into larger pieces. With a little skill, these can then be put back together again relatively easily. The largest security level shreds the paper into extremely small pieces that are impossible to recognise.

Shredders are suitable if you want to get rid of large amounts of paper. The way the paper is cut depends entirely on the type of shredder. Those with a strip cut cut the paper into simple strips, while those with a particle cut spit out small rectangles.

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A paper shredder can shred paper into tiny particles. Those with a high security level can even cut the particles as small as confetti.
(Image source: Frank/ 123rf.com)

The small paper particles accumulate in it, just like in a wastepaper basket. To avoid clogging, a paper shredder must be emptied regularly.

How much does a paper shredder cost?

The prices vary greatly. Anything from 20 to several hundred euros is available. Depending on the type and quality, they cost different amounts.

Those that shred with a strip cut usually cost less. On the other hand, document shredders with particle cut can cost up to several hundred euros.

Type price range
Shredder with strip cut approx. 20-180 €
Shredder with cross cut approx. 40-250 €
Shredder with particle cut approx. 50-300 €

Shredders with strip cut are rather cheap in comparison. This is because they only achieve a low security level. However, the higher the security level, the higher the price can go. Those used by secret services or authorities can even cost several thousand euros.

What are the alternatives to a paper shredder?

If you want to get rid of your files, you don’t necessarily need a shredder. However, there is not really an alternative product. There are, however, many different ways in which you can destroy your papers yourself.

Alternatives Effort Description
Dispose of all paper Little effort If you do not necessarily want to get rid of confidential documents, it is not necessary to shred them. In this case, you can simply dispose of unshredded paper as waste paper and do not necessarily need to buy a shredder.
Shredding yourself A lot of effort If you have a lot of time, you can theoretically shred the sheets yourself. However, this takes a lot of time and the paper will probably be cut into rather large pieces. Also, you can’t cut too many leaves at the same time.
Burning A lot of effort If you want to get rid of highly confidential files without a shredder, you can also burn the sheets. The disadvantage, however, is that this option is less environmentally friendly.
Use shredders at collection points Little effort If you don’t need a shredder every day, you can also shred your files at waste collection points. Most of them have good shredders that you can use for free. It’s best to find out first which waste collection point in your area is the best place to shred paper.
Dissolving A lot of effort Another alternative would be to dissolve in water. This dissolves the files and makes the information illegible.

As you can see, there are many alternatives. However, it is certainly more practical for an office to have a small shredder. But if you only sort through your drawers sometimes and throw away a lot of paper at once, the alternatives listed are more suitable.

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What should I look for when buying a paper shredder?

As already mentioned, the security level is an important factor. Think about what exactly you need the shredder for. Is it for personal use of unimportant documents? Or for business with important, confidential information?

If you need it for unimportant documents, a strip-cut will do. But if it’s important that the information on your files remains confidential, get one with a particle cut. This way you can be sure that your documents won’t fall into the wrong hands.

Also, consider whether you need a quiet shredder. If you want it in your office where you work, buy one that is not too noisy. The noise can affect your ability to concentrate.

Which shredder is suitable for home use?

In most cases, a paper shredder with a low security level is sufficient for your home. Since shredders with a strip cut are generally more efficient and robust, it is worth getting one. Another advantage is that it tends to be quieter. This means you can easily place it by your desk and won’t be distracted while working.

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Which security level is suitable for private use?

As mentioned earlier, you don’t necessarily need a high security level for home use. If you don’t have any confidential documents lying around at home, a shredder with security level 1 or 2 is perfectly adequate.

How do I oil a paper shredder?

Two opposing blades shred the document. If these are not oiled regularly, they become blunt and can no longer do their job. In addition, there is a big appearance of paper jams and blockages.

Particle-cut document shredders, in particular, rely heavily on being cleaned regularly. In the following paragraphs, I will introduce you to the best way to oil yours:

It needs to be cleaned with a certain oil that serves as a protection against paper dust. This is available in different forms; oiled paper, spray oil and bottled oil.

It is important to know the main differences between these three types of oil. For this reason we will look at cleaning with each oil.

First, we will show you how to clean with the spray oil:

  1. Switch to manual mode: Before you start, you should switch the shredder to manual mode.
  2. Spray oil on the blades: Then you can spray some oil directly on the cutting rollers with the spray bottle.
  3. Run backwards: Run the shredder backwards, just like a paper jam. This allows the oil to spread on the blades.
  4. Switch back to automatic mode and shred the sheets : Finally, you can switch back to automatic mode and run another sheet through. This will catch any excess lubricant. After that, your shredder is super clean.

Next, we will show you how cleaning with oil from the bottle works:

  1. Switch to manual mode: As with cleaning with oil from the bottle, you should first switch the shredder to manual mode.
  2. Apply to cutting rollers: You must be careful when applying the oil. If you apply too much oil, you can damage the shredder. You should also not apply too little, otherwise it cannot be cleaned properly.
  3. Run it backwards: Again, you can now run it backwards to distribute the oil well.
  4. Switch back to automatic mode and let it shred the leaves : As before, you can switch back to automatic mode and shred a sheet that catches the excess residue.

Finally, we show you how to clean with oiled paper:

  1. Feed in the oiled paper: You can let the machine feed the oiled paper like a normal paper. In it, the small packets filled with oil are torn open and spread on the blades.

In our opinion, the easiest way to clean your shredder is definitely with oiled paper. However, it is rather expensive in comparison. A good alternative is spray oil. To clean with oil from the bottle you need some experience, because you need the right amount of it.

How does a paper shredder work?

A paper shredder shreds paper. It works by means of a sensor that sends a signal when the paper is in the slot. The signal reaches the cutter and it starts working.

The blades cut the paper by running against each other. Some work with a gear drive, others with a chain drive.

Shredders that work with a chain drive are better for a large amount of paper.

As soon as the sensor no longer feels the paper, the blades stop.

There may well be blockages or paper jams at times. In this case, the run can be reversed at the touch of a button so that you can pull out and remove the jammed paper again.

The shredders are adapted to DIN sheets. Smaller devices are good for DIN A4 sheets, while large ones for commercial use can also handle DIN A3 sheets. However, you can also simply fold the DIN A3 sheets. This gives you two A4 sheets and you can shred them in a smaller shredder.

Where can I dispose of a paper shredder?

All document shredders are recycled. There are plants designed for this purpose. This means that recyclable materials are returned and reused in new production. In this way, natural resources are conserved. Recycling also protects the environment from toxic substances.

That is why it always makes the most sense to return your old shredder to the manufacturer.

You can also take it to a municipal collection point. However, the procedures differ from region to region. Ideally, you should find out beforehand where the nearest collection point is and where you can dispose of what.

What can be shredded in a paper shredder?

A document shredder not only shreds paper, but many can also shred plastic cards, CDs or even paper clips. However, you need to be careful which DIN format yours is suitable for. If you put an A3 sheet of paper into a shredder that is too small, it may break. However, there are some shredders that will even fit A2 sheets. You have to find out how much yours can take.

Basically, most shredders today can shred the following:

  • Paper
  • Plastic cards
  • CDs
  • DVDs
  • Paper clips

The following should not go into a shredder:

  • Documents in a plastic sleeve
  • Laminated documents
  • Books
  • Cloth
  • Cardboard

If one of these products is put into the shredder, it may well stop working afterwards. However, many shredders these days are already up to many challenges. However, it is very important that you check yours before you shred harder things.

Image source: loganban/ 123rf.com

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