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Shredder Buyer's Guide

RoboShredder Auto Feed Paper Shredder - Part 240201How to Choose the Right Shredder to Protect Yourself or Your Business

Paper shredders are essential tools for businesses and households, and most people today understand the risks involved if confidential documents are not properly shredded. Sadly, statistics show that incidences of identity theft and financial fraud are increasing, and few people are immune from harm. Javelin Strategy & Research’s 2014 Identity Fraud Study paper demonstrates how prevalent identity theft or fraud is, noting that fraud victims rose to 13.1 million people in 2013, up 500,000 from the previous year. Experts agree that one of the most effective steps people can take to help prevent such a looming nightmare is to invest in a good shredder.

What Types of Shredders Are Available?

Shredders range from low-volume portable units to high volume industrial models. Regardless of the type, however, all shredders have the important task of destroying confidential information such as pay stubs, credit card offers, old bills, tax returns, receipts and other sensitive material. How they accomplish this task can vary greatly. For this buyer’s guide, we’ll focus on the most common shredders used in households and small offices.

Bring Your Own Basket (BYOB): Relatively inexpensive, these portable units are typically considered “light duty” and mount over an existing trash can.

Desktop: Features and capabilities vary greatly but these units typically include small basket that fits on top of a desk or counter.

Paper-only with Basket: Designed to shred paper documents only, these units are self-contained shredders that include a trash basket.

Multi-media with Basket: Designed to shred paper, DVDs, CDs and credit cards, these units are self-contained and include one of more trash bins.

Important Factors to Consider When Buying a Shredder

Regardless of what type of shredder you choose, before you make a purchase, consider these three factors:

1. How it shreds

2. What it shreds

3. How much it shreds

What Type of Blade Does it Have?

Most shredders will include blades that either strip cut, cross cut (also known as confetti) and micro-cut.

Strip Cut: This blade cuts paper or other items into long strips and should only be used for low-risk documents. Strip cut represents the most basic protection.

Cross Cut: A far better choice for sensitive data, this blade cuts paper into tiny pieces that make the shredding much more secure.

Micro-cut: A good choice for very high-level security documentation, this blade cuts paper into very small pieces for the ultimate in shredding security.

RoboShredder Auto Feed Paper Shredder - Part 240201What Items Can It Shred?

In addition to shredding paper, more robust shredders have a separate slot for credit cards, CDs, DVDs, or Blu-ray discs.  Often referred to as multi-media shredders, these units offer a higher level of security as large amounts of confidential data are often stored on optical disks and thieves are always on the lookout for carelessly cut credit cards.

How Loud Is It?

Depending on the motor size and capabilities, shredders can be loud. If noise is a factor, look for a shredder rated between 60-75dB.

Does the Shedder Include Advanced Functions?

Shredders often include convenience features to make shredding easier and safer. Some of the more popular features include:

Automatic start/stop: Controls the motor and acts like a safety sensor.

Reverse feed: Helps you clear out jams that might occur.

Bin full detector: Stops the shredder when the basket is full.

Separate bins: One for media waste like disks and credit cards and one for paper can simplify disposal and can be a compliance stipulation depending on the level of security.

Cool down time: Make sure the motor has a reasonable cool down time.  A good small office or home office shredder requires a cool down time of between 20 and 40 seconds.

Security Regulations You May Not Know About

While most households are exempt, small offices such as health care clinics, doctor offices and insurance companies may have to comply with one of the following regulations. Security is the most important consideration to the buyer, but it is important to note that there are different levels of security available in a shredder and standards are usually based on the final size of shredded materials.

Document shredding is necessary for compliance with several federal privacy laws such as:

  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
  • Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA)
  • Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLB Act)
  • Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX)

  • A shredder may also be necessary for compliance with some state regulations like the California Information Practice Act (CAL SB1386). Some shredders have received approval from the National Security Agency/ Central Security Service (NSA/CSS), allowing them to be used by both military and government officials.

    The National Security Agency (NSA) approves of cross-cut shredders that are "designed to produce residue particle size not exceeding 1/32 inch in width (with a 1/64 inch tolerance) by 1/2 inch in length, according to DOD document 5220.22-M, Chapter 5, Section 7."

    RoboShredder Auto Feed Paper Shredder - Part 240201Maintaining Your Shredder

    Just like any motor-driven appliance, shredders need to be maintained and blades need to be lubricated from time to time. Lubrication sheets are a convenient maintenance solution and can be inserted into the shredder just like a piece of paper. The sheets reduce blade friction as well as optimize the shredder's overall performance. If your shredder gets a good workout, you may have to occasionally replace parts. In addition, make sure your shredder comes with a warranty that lasts at least one year.


    Aleratec offers multimedia shredders to ensure the fastest, easiest and most affordable means of protection against identity theft and fraud. Aleratec's DVD/CD shredders are successfully used throughout the country by government organizations, businesses and individuals working from home to safely and securely dispose of financial records, personal data, credit cards, bills, and more. Aleratec's shredding solutions currently include:

    DVD CD Shredder XC2™ - Part 240208
    DVD CD Shredder Plus DS18™ - Part 240147
    Aleratec Shredder Lubricant Sheets 12-Pack - Part 240165

    DVD/CD Paper Cross Cut Shredder DVD/CD Shredder Plus

    By Perry Solomon
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