Best paper shredder: 5 things to consider before you buy new office equipment

Get to know the best paper shredder for security and privacy in your office.

Whether it’s for tax time or when you’re overdue on organizing confidential documents and files, the best paper shredders will help you protect your privacy while also reducing clutter in your office. With the prevalence of remote work, the demand for home office equipment has only increased, and this trend is unlikely to reverse itself. An important investment to your home office is a paper shredder—it’s just too time-consuming to preserve the security of your documents without one. Whether you are shredding bills, old contracts, or confidential files, it’s crucial to safeguard your private information and those of your clients.

The best paper shredder will be reliable, sized appropriately for your needs, and offer the right level of security. It’s important to consider the amount and type of shredding you will be doing and with what frequency. The price range of paper shredders is vast, with options for small desktop shredders priced under $50, to large commercial-grade options priced at well over a thousand. Whether you need something small, large, or somewhere in between, there are plenty of well-rated options to choose from. We’ve selected some of the best paper shredders on the market for your home office.

Features to consider when shopping for the best paper shredder

When shopping for the best paper shredder, you should consider the speed, running time, and the machine’s paper capacity. Do you need a heavy-duty professional machine or a lightweight desktop unit? Would a machine that also cuts credit cards be useful? Is noise level important in your home office? We explore options based on use, output, and level of security while also answering some important common questions. Note to editor: Include keyword with anchor text linking to related Camden article.

Looking for a professional-grade paper shredder?

When your home office demands a higher level of privacy, and when you have a larger volume of shredding, it’s worth considering a professional-grade, heavy-duty paper shredder. Professional grade means you can shred more documents quickly and can expect a higher level of security.

Paper shredders are rated incrementally for their security, with level P-2 being basic strip cutting. Levels P-3 and P-4 use the crosscut method, which is extremely difficult to reassemble, with level 4 cuts smaller and therefore more secure than level 3. Finally, levels P-5 and -6 offer the ultimate security: a micro-cut method that shreds papers into tiny particles, making them impossible to reassemble. Level P-7 machines, which also use micro-cutting but are not commonly used at home, are approved by the NSA for top-secret classified documents (and can therefore be quite expensive).

In addition to higher levels of security, the best heavy-duty paper shredder will allow the user to insert more papers at a time into the shredder. This will cut down the overall time required to complete larger jobs. Finally, heavy-duty shredders have more powerful motors to allow for longer running time. While small lightweight shredders might be able to handle only a few minutes of shredding before the unit shuts off to cool the motor, heavy-duty options can handle upward of 30 minutes or more.

Best heavy-duty paper shredder: Wolverine SD9113 Heavy Duty Shredder

Portable Workhorse

This wheeled paper shredder can take 18 sheets at a time with 60 minutes of run time. Amazon

BUY NOW

This professional-grade heavy-duty paper shredder is a great option for larger jobs. We especially appreciate the wheels, so it can be easily stored when not in use. The built-in bin can hold 6 gallons of paper waste. The powerful motor offers 60 minutes of shredding time with a P-4 crosscut for high security.

Want a serene environment in your home office?

There’s a reason we call excess sound “noise pollution.” Whether you have a lot of meetings and phone calls and don’t want extra noise to interrupt and disturb you, or you’ve got a sleeping infant in another room, there are always practical reasons to keep your office equipment as quiet as possible.

The best quiet paper shredders get the job done without excess noise from the motor. Investigate whether the manufacturer has taken noise level into consideration when designing the shredder. Some manufacturers list the decibel level, which will give you an idea on the relative noise as compared to other common relatable noises. Not all manufacturers list this information, but in general, if a unit is quiet, it’ll be advertised.

Best quiet paper shredder: Aurora AU2280XA

Quiet Operation

This quiet professional-grade shredder can handle 30 minutes of continuous running time. Amazon

BUY NOW

This paper shredder offers level P-4 security and ultra-quiet operation. A crosscut style shredder, it can handle 22 pages at a time, as well as credit cards and CDs. LED lights alert for standby, overheating of motor, bin-full, overload, and door-open status.

Looking for the best paper shredder that can also shred credit cards?

Why not look for a shredder that can shred more than just paper? Even if you will use your shredder most commonly for documents, having the ability to shred credit cards is a handy function that should not make your shredder any more expensive. Whether it’s credit cards, expired membership cards or health insurance cards, CDs, or IDs it’s best to shred these items for optimal personal security.

The best paper and credit card shredders allow both functions to operate seamlessly and automatically adjust the motor speed accordingly. Some shredders allow for all items to be shredded in the same paper feed, and others offer an additional feed for thicker plastic items.

Best paper and credit card shredder: Amazon Basics 8-Sheet Capacity, Paper Shredder

Power Player

This 4.1-gallon shredder has an eight-sheet capacity and also offers credit card shredding. Amazon

BUY NOW

A dependable option for small offices or workspaces, this well-priced and compact paper and credit card shredder can handle up to eight sheets at a time, with a larger notch in the feed that allows credit cards to be shredded. If too much paper is fed at a time, the unit can overheat and will need to be cooled for about 15 minutes before you try to use it again. Be aware that Amazon recommends oiling with their coordinating lubricant sheets (sold separately).

Tight on space but still need a paper shredder?

Not all of us are blessed with a lot of square footage, and many older homes were not designed for office or workspace. We adapt by turning a corner in the dining room, bedroom, or storage area into our tiny but functional home office. When space is an issue, consider a no-basket paper shredder. Without the basket (or trash) attachment, you save a lot of room, which makes storing this item much easier.

The best no-basket paper shredders offer a powerful motor with the ability to shred paper and credit cards. The no-basket shredder should fit on top of your regular trash can to allow for easy dumping of document scraps. Look for units that have an adjustable extendable arm to allow the shredder to fit over a variety of different-sized trash cans.

Best no-basket paper shredder: Aurora AU800SD Professional Strip Cut Paper Shredder

Easy to Store

This space-saving no-basket shredder can shred eight pages of paper at a time as well as credit cards. Amazon

BUY NOW

This no-basket paper shredder is a good fit for smaller offices, with all of your basic shredding needs met. The adjustable arm allows the shredder to sit on top of a variety of trash cans for easy dumping. It automatically shuts off when the unit is close to overheating.

Looking for a high-security paper shredder?

If you require disposal of sensitive documents—whether it’s personal information, contracts, or confidential business information—you should look for a paper shredder with high-security shredding. The best micro-cut paper shredders offer a P-4 or higher security rating. This means that the shreds will be cut small enough to not be easily reassembled if a criminal tries to steal sensitive information. With identity theft such a common problem, we need to take extra care and precautions to guard our personal information and those of our clients.

A paper-shred security level of P-4 is most commonly used when you require the disposal of very confidential, personal data. With this security rating, you can expect the particle width to be very small, and the total shred area should not exceed 160 square millimeters. The best micro-cut shredders not only offer security, but they also offer multiple-sheet shredding, a good amount of continuous work time, automatic shut-off features, as well as credit card shredding if desired.

Best micro-cut paper shredder: Bonsaii Updated 12-Sheet Micro Cut Paper Shredder

Powerful and Private

This high-security shredder offers a P-4 level of security, as well as 12-sheets-of-paper feeding and 30 minutes of continuous shred time. Amazon

BUY NOW

This handy, P-4 high-security paper shredder has lockable wheels to make moving around and storing easy. The powerful motor can handle up to 12 pages of paper, including staples, as well as credit cards. The shredder can operate for 30 minutes of continuous shredding, and has a 5.3-gallon pullout wastebasket.

Best budget paper shredder: What you get for under $30

When it comes to cost, there are some differences you can expect to find when shopping for budget paper shredders. The best budget paper shredders are ideal for small home offices with a light load of papers to shred. Less-expensive paper shredders offer a shorter continuous shredding time and can handle fewer papers per shred. That may be good enough for your home office needs. The ability to shred credit cards does not affect cost, so you can expect to find this feature on budget paper shredders.

Best budget paper shredder: Aurora AS420C Desktop-Style

Light-Duty

This is a small paper and credit card shredder for home offices with minimal shredding needs. Amazon

BUY NOW

Priced for small offices with light loads, this little desktop shredder can shred up to four folded sheets or one credit card, and can shred for two minutes continuously. The detachable basket can hold up to 1.32 gallons of paper waste, or about 40 pages.

Everything else you need to know about buying the best paper shredder

How long does a home shredder last?

With proper care, the best paper shredder should last around 10 years. It’s important to follow manufacturers’ directions, as shredding time and paper load vary among machines. Simple at-home shredders may only be able to shred for a couple of minutes at a time, while more heavy-duty shredders can handle around 30 minutes. Follow the directions so you don’t overheat the motor or jam paper.

Which is better: crosscut or micro-cut shredders?

The best paper shredders will offer the right level of security for the documents you are getting rid of. Traditional crosscut paper shredders are a great solution for most everyday paperwork, emails, and non-sensitive personal information, they slice paper in two directions lengthwise and widthwise. Micro-cut is a better choice if you need to shred confidential documents that contain personal information, as they cut the paperwork into tiny bits.

How do you clean a paper shredder?

It’s important to keep your paper shredder clean in order to get the most years of use from your machine. Cleaning a paper shredder includes dumping the bin, running the shredder in reverse, and using compressed air to remove dust and small pieces that get stuck in the blades.

A final word on shopping for the best paper shredder

The best paper shredder for home use will offer multiple-sheet feeding, and the right amount of continuous paper shredding for your at-home work. Maintaining the privacy of your sensitive documents doesn’t have to be an expensive or difficult endeavor.