A paper shredder is a security device that chops up paper into small strips or confetti-like pieces, making it difficult for the individual pieces to be put back together. Confidential documents are run through shredders to prevent the information from being leaked, and many offices also use these devices to compact paper before putting it out for recycling, and to ensure that no confidential information slips out. While the basic design of a paper shredder is the same whether it is a desktop version or an industrial shredder, there are a few considerations to take into account when picking one out to make sure that you get the right tool for the job. You'll want to consider how much paper it can handle, what type of shred you want, if you need it to handle things other than paper, and if it has a warranty.
The first thing to think about is volume. Most people end up shredding approximately twice the amount of paper they think they will after purchasing a shredder, so try to come up with an accurate estimate of how many sheets you will need to shred per day, and how many sheets the shredder should be able to handle at a time. A small personal paper shredder may only be only to shred one to five pieces of paper at once, and can handle around 20 uses per day before it begins to struggle. A heavy volume industrial shredder, on the other hand, can shred between 5,000-36,000 sheets of paper a day, depending on configuration. Your needs may lie somewhere in the middle; with a medium volume personal shredder, for example, which can shred 50-100 sheets of paper each day.
The next consideration is the type of shred you want. Most basic paper shredders use a strip cut system, which turns each sheet of paper into thin ribbons. High security shredders use a cross cut mechanism, however, which twists the paper while cutting it, reducing it to small scraps. Cross cut shredders are more expensive, but if you are handling especially sensitive material, you may want to consider purchasing one.
In some cases, a shredder can handle more than paper. If you keep secure data on diskettes or compact discs, for example, you may benefit from a heavy materials shredder, which can also handle thicker weights of paper and cardboard. You should also consider the maximum paper size that you will need to shred. Most basic shredders only handle paper up to legal size, and if you handle confidential material of tabloid size or larger, you may have to cut the sheets by hand before shredding them, which can be irritating in high volume.
Finally, check on the quality of the paper shredder and the warranty. Purchase one with a strong motor that should not wear out, and do not be afraid to question staff about how well the shredder will hold up in the long term. Make sure to get directions about care, as well, because a well-lubricated machine will last longer and shred more effectively.