How to Choose the Right Document Shredder

Document shredders are essential for protecting your business’ confidential information from security breaches and from identity theft. Using the right paper shredder ensures your documents are appropriately shredded before they are disposed for recycling or into the garbage.

The factors to consider when you are buying a shredder are:

  • Shred volume and duty cycle – size and motor strength
  • Sheet capacity – how many sheets can be shredded at once
  • Decibel level – the amount of noise the shredder makes
  • Security level – the pattern and density of the cut

Below, we discuss each criteria in more detail as well as give you an idea of the price range for different options.

1. Shred Volume and Duty Cycle

Light Duty Shredders

  • Ideal for small offices with limited shredding needs
  • Small waste bin capacity
  • Less then 10 minute motor run time an average 40 minute cool down time
  • Low sheet capacity
  • Price range is usually $40 to $400

Medium Duty Shredders

  • Single or multiuser
  • Small to medium waste bin capacity
  • 10+ minute motor run time with average 40 minute cool down
  • Medium sheet capacity
  • Price range is usually $260 to $800

Heavy Duty Shredders

  • Geared for multiuser department or offices
  • Continuous duty motor for all day shredding
  • Waste bin capacity of 18-28 gallons
  • Sheet capacity and security levels vary by model.
  • Price range is usually $900 to $6000
HSM Classic 104.3cc Cross-Cut Shredder, Cross Cut, 14 Per Pass, 32.93 L Waste Capacity, $925.80
Swingline LX30-55 Paper Shredder, Cross Cut, 332 per pass, 55 Gallon Waste Capacity, $5699.84


  • No hand feeding is required, simply pre-load all the paper
  • Great for a busy office
  • Price Rage $300-$3000
Fellowes Powershred AF-500C Auto Feed Shredder, Cross Cut, 500 Per Pass, 75.71 L Waste Capacity, $2630.02

2. Sheet capacity

Sheet capacity refers to how many sheets can be loaded (shredded) at the same time. The high the sheet capacity, the more documents you can shred at once. The sheet capacity is mainly dependant on the shredder’s cutter head.

Cutter Heads

  • Solid steel cutting cylinders – Usually found on the higher quality, heavy duty shredders.
  • Stacked cutting heads – Individual blades and spacers stacked onto 2 shafts to create a pair of cutting cylinders.

3. Decibel Level

The decibel level of a document shredder describes the amount of noise produced when the machine is in operation.

  • 100dBs – Very loud (heavy traffic)
  • 80 dBs – Loud (noisy traffic)
  • 60 dBs – Normal (typewriter)
  • 50 dBs – Quiet (private conversations)

4. Security Levels

The security level on a shredder describes the width the paper shreds. A thinner width provides more security since the shreds will be harder to reassemble into the original document.

  • High Security Level P-7, NSA High Security – Most secure cut for classified, secret financial or personal records
  • High to Medium Security Level P-5 & P-6, Micro Cut – Ideal for highly confidential credit and financial reports
  • Medium Security Level P-3 & P-4, Confetti/Cross Cut – Medium security cross cut. Ideal for all shredding needs that may have some sensitivity, including home offices
  • Medium to Low Security Level 2. Strip Cut – Ideal for fast high-volume shredding needs of non-confidential documents

Tip for Maintaining Your Shredders: All cross-cut shredders require regular oiling with a shredder oil product. Refer to your owner’s manual for the recommended frequency.

Document shredders are essential tools for offices, whether it’s a small home business to a large enterprise. Properly shredded documents eliminates the risk that prying eyes or criminals access your business’ or employees’ personal confidential information.

Call us at (416) 652-6829 or email me at, and we’ll help you pick out the best shredder for you and your business.


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