A shredder is one of those often overlooked office technologies like copiers and intranet platforms. A good paper shredder fits seamlessly into your work environment to prevent identity theft and keep junk mail from cluttering your space, but a bad shredder wastes your time and can even pose a safety risk.
BP’s Picks for Best Shredders for Small Businesses?
Before you invest money in a shredder for your small business, you need to know what to look for in a machine and which models on the market offer the best features at the best value.
What to Look for in the Best Paper Shredders
For some businesses, a paper shredder is absolutely essential for protecting private, sensitive data from being obtained and used for identity theft or other wrongful purposes. For other small businesses, a shredder is a matter of convenience.
Since different businesses have distinct needs, it’s important to look at several factors when comparing paper shredder models and weighing which ones matter the most to your company.
Shredders come in light-duty, medium-duty, and heavy-duty power levels. Generally, the more demanding your shredding needs are, the more you need a powerful motor. Trying to do heavy-duty shredding work with a light-duty model could overheat and burn up your machine, but buying a heavy-duty shredder for minimal shredding work probably won’t be worth the investment.
How many pages of documents can a shredder power through at once? If you have a lot of documents to shred, a 15-sheet shredder can speed through the work at twice the pace of an eight-sheet shredder. Some high-capacity shredders can be loaded with hundreds of documents at a time, using an autofeed function to move batches through the entry-feed slot.
Some shredders cut through more than just paper, so consider whether you may need a machine that will shred credit cards, CDs, DVDs, and more.
If your documents tend to contain a lot of staples or paper clips, you may want to choose a shredder that can cut right through these small metal components, even if it costs more money. This will save you the time of having to stop and remove staples and clips from every shredding job.
Even if two shredders can handle the same amount of pages at a time, they may not shred documents equally as fast. If speed is a priority, take a look at a machine’s average shred speed, usually expressed in meters per minute or feet per minute.
Most shredders have a maximum amount of time they can be used continuously before they need to cool down. If you plan on long shredding sessions, make sure your machine can keep up by choosing a shredder with a continuous run time of 20, 30, or even 60 minutes. Also, pay attention to the length of the cool-down period needed between operations.
Shredders are prone to jamming, especially when scraps of paper get twisted, folded, wrinkled, or tangled up. If paper jams are a big pet peeve for you, spring for a model with advanced jam protection features. Otherwise, consider a shredder that at least comes with a reverse mode that can help you easily clear a jam.
You could spend as little as $20 on a small, portable light-duty shredder or as much as $3,200 on an industrial machine meant for the whole office to use. Business owners should look at the value a shredder offers as well as its cost. For a medium-duty shredder, business owners should expect to pay prices in the $125 to $200 ballpark.
Today’s shredders have more bells and whistles than ever before, including the potential for smart technology integration. Advanced cooling technologies that keep the machine from overheating; proprietary quiet motor technology that decreases the noise level; sophisticated safety features; and auto-shutoff functions are among the most popular advanced features you will find in the best paper shredders for businesses.
The size of the shreds produced by the machine depends on the level of security you need. If you just want to shred junk mail, you don’t need to reduce the pages to tiny pieces of confetti as you would when cutting up truly sensitive documents.
What Type of Shredder Is Most Secure?
The security of shredders is typically measured in levels P-1 through P-7, going from least secure to most secure.
While security certainly matters, business owners should have a realistic expectation of their shredding needs. The average business doesn’t need P-7 top-secret-level security such as that used by government intelligence agencies. If your company doesn’t operate in the industries of secret research and development and patents, you probably don’t need a P-6 security level, either.
In fact, a P-4 shredder provides plenty of security for most commercial destruction purposes, including reducing the risk of identity theft. You might use a P-4 security shredder if your company needs to get rid of sensitive data in the categories of financial and tax documents, customer and client data, invoices, and other private information.
Is a Cross-Cut or Micro-Cut Shredder Better?
Strip-cut shredders produce the largest scraps of paper, giving you the least security. Cross-cut shredding is the next level up in security, cutting paper into significantly smaller strips that would be difficult to reassemble.
Micro-cut shredders are overachievers in security. They’re capable of slicing a single page of letter-sized paper into thousands of particles, rather than hundreds (as cross-cut shredders do) or dozens (as strip-cut shredders do.
For most businesses, a cross-cut shredder that slashes pages into pieces the P-4 level size of 5/32-by-1 1/2 inches provides plenty of security.
If you feel a need for a higher level of security, make sure that the shred size produced by any machine that claims to be a micro-cut shredder actually meets the minimum requirements to be considered the P-5 level of security, which is around 5/64-by-5/16 inches.
The Best Paper Shredder for Office Use vs. Home Use
There are a lot of shredders on the market, but business owners don’t have to get bogged down comparing the sheet capacity and specifications for every option out there. For most small businesses that need a shredder, the outstanding paper shredders on our list will get the job done.
If your business operates out of a home office, there’s a good chance you have a smaller space to work with. A lighter-duty machine may be enough to shred documents for a home-based business.
Unless your designated home office space is exceptionally large, you will likely want to avoid the high-capacity, heavy-duty industrial shredders and opt for a smaller model or even a portable shredder.
If there’s one machine that stands out above all the rest of the best paper shredders for small businesses, it’s the Fellowes Powershred 79Ci 100% Jam Proof Medium-Duty Cross-Cut Shredder. High-end features at a price point that’s not too high make this paper shredder a solid choice for just about any small business with shredding needs.
What Makes it the Best?
Without a doubt, one of the biggest benefits of the 79Ci model from the Fellowes Powershred line is its 100% jam-proof system that utilizes three distinct levels of jam-protection technology.
- A smart sensor built into the paper entry slot measures the thickness of the paper loaded to avoid overfeeding.
- Warning lights let you know if your stack of documents is at risk of exceeding the machine’s sheet capacity, which is 16 sheets of paper.
- An auto-reverse feature kicks in when papers fold, develop wrinkles, or otherwise present a risk of jamming, expelling the paper right away to avoid strips getting tangled in the blades.
Whether you’re working out of a home office or have the benefit of a fully commercial space, safety should always be a top priority. With blades that engage automatically, shredders can be dangerous. Fellowes Powershred’s SafeSense technology keeps your workers—and even kids and pets—protected by sensing when hands touch the paper entry slot and stopping operation automatically.
With an average shred speed of 4.3 meters per minute (which translates to more than 14 feet per minute), you can work through your documents in no time. You can also do so with minimal noise and disruption, thanks to the machine’s SilentShred technology. The shredder’s energy-saving system means you’re not wasting electricity or efficiency. Keep shredding for up to 20 minutes of continuous run time.
Rated at the P-4 security level, Fellowes Powershred 79Ci machine can shred documents into cross-cut particles measuring 5/32-by-1 1/2 inches. Cutting pages to this size serves as a middle ground, making the machine more secure than strip-cut shredders but faster to operate than micro-cut shredders. This model allows you to shred 16 pages at a time as well as credit cards and CDs.
As a great all-around shredder, the Fellowes Powershred 79Ci isn’t missing much. The $200 price point may seem a bit steep to budget-conscious small-business owners who could easily get a more affordable but less fancy shredder for a quarter of the price.
This medium-duty cross-cut shredder doesn’t offer the heavy-duty industrial capacity you need to slice up a hundred sheets of paper at a time or run continuously for an hour.
With a lower price point but fewer features, the Amazon Basics 15-Sheet Cross-Cut Paper, CD Credit Card Office Shredder is a solid machine and a strong runner-up for the best overall business shredder.
What Makes it the Best?
At a price point in the $120 range, this upgraded Amazon Basics shredder brings a lot to the table or, rather, the office. The machine functions as a CD and credit card shredder as well as a document shredder that cross-cuts paper into the P-4 high-security size of 3/16-by-1 7/32 inches (4.7 millimeters by 31 millimeters).
Like the Fellowes Powershred shredder, the Amazon Basics 15-Sheet Cross-Cut Office Shredder can run for up to 20 continuous minutes. With thermal protection to prevent overheating, an easy-on automatic function, and LED indicators that make usage and troubleshooting easy, Amazon’s offering is a solid option for a small to medium-sized office or even a home office.
What makes this shredder a runner-up is that it’s missing the features of the Fellowes Powershred machine, like the jam-proof system and the SafeSense technology. It’s also not built for heavy-duty use, loading hundreds of documents at once or operating for an hour at a time.
If the sky’s the limit on your paper shredder budget, check out the Swingline GBC SmarTech Enabled Auto Feed line of Supper Cross-Cut Stack and Shred shredders for multiple users. You’ll get top-of-the-line features with this heavy-duty paper shredder, but be prepared to pay a premium for the extras.
What Makes it the Best?
What makes this luxury shredder truly stand out is the SmarTech intelligence that lets business owners maximize their time. Simply set hundreds of documents to be shredded in the slot and let the auto feed function do its thing. The SmarTech app for your mobile phone will keep you updated on the shredder’s progress, so there’s no need to babysit the machine.
If a problem does arise, the automatic jam-clearance feature should take care of the paper jam for you. Other high-end features include an ultra-quiet motor, power-save mode for energy efficiency, and self-cleaning cutters that make maintenance a breeze.
Obliterating CDs and DVDs is no problem for this heavy-duty shredder, which also cuts through staples, credit cards, paper clips, and more with ease. With an 11-gallon pull-out bin, you won’t have to empty the wastebasket every time you need to shred a few documents. This shredder can keep going for 30 minutes of continuous run time, with 30 minutes of cool-down time in between runs.
The Swingline GBC’s super cross-cut style of shredding meets the P-4 security level, slicing sensitive documents into pieces 160 square millimeters or smaller. If your business needs high-security shredding for commercial purposes, this machine fits the bill.
There’s not much lacking in the Swingline GBC SmarTech Enabled shredder, but it’s not the right choice for every small business, especially those on a budget. The price points for this line of Swingline GBC shredders range from $1,000 for the 300-sheet capacity shredder to more than $3,200 for the 700-sheet capacity model.
On the other end of the cost spectrum are budget paper shredders like the Amazon Basics 6-Sheet High-Security Micro-Cut Paper and Credit Card Home Office Shredder. With a price point that even the smallest small business can afford, plus an impressive list of extra features, this bestselling paper shredder is a great value that has garnered over 100,000 positive reviews.
What Makes it the Best?
You can get this six-sheet paper shredder for under $50, but this is one instance in which you get more than you pay for, features-wise.
Thermal protection, easy-start functionality, and a manual reverse mode that makes it easier to deal with occasional paper jams are some of the useful extras you’ll find in this budget friendly machine. The auto-start feature senses when a document is loaded and shreds it automatically, eliminating the need for holding buttons or flipping switches to operate the machine.
What makes this Amazon Basics paper shredder a high-security model is its cross-cut shredding capability that does more to protect the privacy of sensitive data than a strip-cut shredder. Besides securely cross-cutting up to six sheets of paper at a time, this machine also works on credit cards and can slice through staples and small paper clips when needed.
Overall, this is a great shredder for the price, but it doesn’t compare to the more upscale features found on the best paper shredders at more moderate price points. It won’t run continuously for as long as the more expensive machines will—even the higher-priced Amazon Basics models. It doesn’t have the power to shred CDs and DVDs.
You also won’t find the anti-jam technology that the Fellowes Powershred and Bonsaii EverShred machines boast in this budget friendly but less sophisticated paper shredder, and that means jams will happen from time to time.
If your business needs high-volume shredding without the prohibitive cost of the Swingline GBC models, take a look at the Amazon Basics Autofeed Micro-Cut Paper Shredder. This micro-cut shredder is capable of shredding 150 sheets at a time, and it cuts them down into minuscule 4-by-12-millimeter pieces.
What Makes it the Best?
This machine is at the top of the generally well-received Amazon Basics line of paper shredders. Its high shredding capacity allows business owners with considerable shredding needs to dispose of documents at a rapid pace. Autofeed technology allows you to get the most out of the shredder’s high-volume capabilities without hovering by the machine to manually feed in paper.
When you’re shredding this much paper, the cut-up pieces have to go somewhere. Fortunately, you can fit more than 400 sheets’ worth of shredding in the machine’s transparent 6-gallon bin. The low noise level won’t disturb workers or disrupt your business.
Thanks to an advanced cooling system that prevents overheating, the Amazon Basics 150-Sheet Autofeed Micro-Cut Paper Shredder is suitable for heavy-duty use. Use for up to 60 minutes continuously so you can get your shredding done and get back to business.
With its patented cutting technology, this shredder reduces paper documents to debris small enough to meet P-4 high-security standards—six times smaller than what a standard cross-cut shredder would do. Included caster roller wheels make it easy to move the shredder around the office as needed.
Although the Amazon Basics 150-Sheet shredder has a reverse function to help clear paper jams, it’s missing the jam-proof system technology you’ll find in brands like Fellowes Powershred and Bonsaii EverShred—even though this model costs more. Business owners who don’t need to shred 150 documents at a time may be better off with a different machine that offers jam protection, especially considering this model’s $200 price point.
Also, while the continuous run time for the autofeed tray is an impressive 60 minutes, the machine has a 45-minute cool-down period between one long use and the next. On manual, it’s a 10-minute continuous run time limit with a 45-minute cool-down time. These longer cooling times make the machine somewhat less efficient than others with similar run times, although small-business owners whose shedding uses are less frequent may not mind.
Heavy-duty shredding use doesn’t only refer to the sheer quantity of pages you need to shred. If you’re looking to get through large volumes of documents quickly with minimal downtime, the Bonsaii EverShred C149-C 18-Sheet Cross-Cut Paper Shredder could be exactly what you need.
What Makes it the Best?
Slicing through documents at a speed of 5.3 feet per minute, this shredder boasts a 60-minute continuous run time and requires a cool-down period of just 10 minutes. Bonsaii’s patented advanced cooling system allows the machine to power through up to an hour’s uninterrupted work, all while shredding up to 18 pages at a time.
Bonsaii’s C149-C model is heavy-duty enough to shred DVDs, CDs, and credit cards, and cut through staples as needed. The machine dices documents into 5-by-40-millimeter pieces consistent with the P-4 level of shredder security.
Another standout feature is the jam protection system. Bonsaii’s system is built to automatically detect paper jams and reverse the feed, freeing stuck documents and scraps before more damage (and frustration) occurs.
The strips of shredded paper collect in a spacious 6-gallon bin with a handle for easy opening and emptying, and a window through which you see if the wastebasket is full. Four caster wheels give you the option of rolling the shredder from place to place when needed. That’s a good thing, since the item itself weighs more than 23 pounds.
The biggest downside of this Bonsaii machine is that it’s not a micro-cut shredder. While the 5-by-40-millimeter strips are still small enough to constitute high-security shredding, they aren’t the tiny pieces of confetti that micro-cut shredders are known to create.
Despite their comparable price points, this Bonsaii shredder doesn’t have safety features equivalent to the Fellowes Powershred’s SafeSense technology, which some purchasers have lamented.
Shredding power is important, but a bigger machine isn’t always better, especially for small businesses. High-capacity machines like the Amazon Basics 150-Sheet Autofeed shredder and high-runtime models like the Bonsaii EverShred 60-Minute shredder are too large to fit comfortably into many home offices. They’re also much too cumbersome if you need to lug them back and forth between a home office and a dedicated commercial space.
That’s where the Aurora AS420C Desktop-Style Cross-Cut Paper Shredder, a handy portable shredder ideal for light-duty shredding work, comes in.
What Makes it the Best?
The portability of the Aurora AS420C Desktop-Style shredder is unmatched. Measuring at just 9-by-7-by-10 inches, this Aurora model easily fits wherever you need it: on a small desk, on a countertop, or even in your car. The lightweight machine is easy to carry, and the compact design of the included wastebasket allows it to hold up to 1.32 gallons—approximately 40 sheets of paper—in a small space.
This small office shredder is built for convenience, with a see-through integrated basket that allows you to easily see when it’s time to empty the waste and a built-in handle for easier emptying. The wastebasket has small, convenient storage pockets that can hold pens, notes, and an included letter opener.
Although not as high powered as the bigger models on our list, the Aurora AS420C Cross-Cut Shredder uses durable steel blades to chop as many as four sheets of 20-pound bond paper into confetti pieces measuring 1/5-by-1 17/20 inches. It’s also strong enough to shred credit cards.
You probably wouldn’t expect a lot of bells and whistles out of this portable shredder, but it’s got a couple of neat features. To keep it from overheating, the tiny machine comes with a thermal protection regulation feature that shuts down its motor when it’s in danger of being overworked. The shredder’s convenient auto-start power mode switches to standby when not in use but also has a manual reverse mode.
With an Amazon list price of under $30, this ultra-portable mini-shredder is a small investment that makes a big impact, especially for home-based businesses or small businesses with only occasional light-duty shredding needs.
The biggest flaw in the Aurora AS420C shredder is that the paper feed entry, like the rest of the machine, is compact. At just 4.5 inches wide, it won’t fit a regular sheet of letter paper, so you have to either fold the paper or manually tear it into smaller pieces before loading. For some business owners, this might be a deal breaker.
Beyond that, most of the reasons you might not find this shredder satisfactory are predictable, given its size. This isn’t a heavy-duty machine, and it can’t be used continuously for long stretches of time. Without fancy paper jam resistance features, this model is more likely to jam up than more sophisticated shredders. The machine also doesn’t shred CDs and DVDs (although, for a few dollars more, you could upgrade to the eight-sheet model that does).
Ultimately, this portable shredder is great for light-duty convenience but would be underwhelmed by business owners who need to do a lot of shredding on a frequent basis.
Paper shredders are supposed to make your life easier, not harder, so choosing a machine shouldn’t be a major project. Business owners can feel confident that any of the shredders on our list will bring value and convenience to their company. The only question is which features, capacity, power level, and price point best fit your business’s unique needs.