Why shouldn't I just buy an inexpensive shredder?

The most common error that we have seen is buying a shredder that's too small for the job. Doing this usually results in far more wasted time and money than might be saved on the original price of the shredder. We suggest that you evaluate your needs before buying. Here's what will happen if you buy an inadequate shredder:
  • Employees spend more time waiting for the shredder to finish. The loss of productivity is often worth several hundred dollars a year.
  • The shredder will jam up more often, as impatient employees try to put in too many pages at a time, or try to put in more pages before the current load is finished.
  • The shredder will break down more often. This causes lost productivity as well as the cost of repairs or replacement.
  • Overloaded shredders will often fail to completely shred documents. Your most important documents may end up in the trash in readable condition without anyone noticing.
  • Critical documents that should have been destroyed may be just thrown away, because the shredder was too slow or not working at the time. Isn't this why you're going to buy a shredder in the first place?

What do I need to know to buy a shredder?

  • What will you be shredding? What size paper? Do you need to shred CDs/DVDs?
  • How much material will you be shredding? It's always a good idea to buy some extra capacity, since you will have this shredder for several years and your company will probably grow in that time.
  • What security level are the most sensitive documents that you will need to shred?

Should I buy just one shredder for everyone to use?

Depending on the size of your company this is often an excellent choice. Here are some factors to consider:
  • For a single shredder, you will need to find a location that is convenient for everyone, or provide shred bins to all employees that are then emptied by one person.
  • Will one person be responsible for operating the shredder, or will you have everyone shred their own waste? If one person at your company is responsible for shredding all documents, remember that that person will be able to see all of your confidential data. If everyone shreds their own, this will probably take more time away from their real work.
  • While individual shredders are convenient, they can also be noisy enough to disrupt the work of others nearby. A single shredder can be placed in a separate room where noise will not be a problem.
  • Different departments may require different levels of security. A single shredder needs to adequately protect the most valuable documents that must be destroyed. Security consideratins may require that some individuals or departments have their own shredder.

What maintenance does a shredder need?

  • Replace the bags when they get full. Keep a supply of the proper size shredder bags on hand, near or in the shredder cabinet.
  • Oil the cutting head frequently. This will keep your shredder running at full speed. See your instruction manual for how and when to oil.
  • Clean off the paper dust that may build up on top of the machine and in the throat.

Are shredders safe?

Any piece of machinery should be treated with respect. While shredders have been known to attempt to shred loose clothing, injuries are rare. To avoid any potential problems, use care when wearing ties, jackets, or anything else that may fall into the shredder's throat. Shredders should be turned off when not in use. Don't place a shredder where items can easily fall into the throat, or where liquids can be spilled into the machine. Have any employees who may be operating the shredder read the safety section of your shredder manual.

If you are using a shredder in a home office, keep children and pets away from the shredder. Disconnect or lock up the shredder when not in use or you are not in the office.

Warning: Some of our customers use "canned air" to clean the paper dust and debris out of their shredders. While this is normally a good idea, we have found that some manufacturers use flammable gases in their "canned air" product. Please read the label of such products careful and do not use any such product containing butane, propane, or other flammable gases to clean your shredder. Serious injury and property damage can result from the use of flammable gases around a paper shredder.

What is a strip cut shredder?

Strip cut shredders cut your documents into long narrow strips. They are generally less expensive and have higher capacity than an equivalent cross cut machine. The cutting heads on a strip cut shredder are less complex, making for fewer jams and longer life. Strip cut shredders also handle more sheets of paper at a time than an equivalent cross cut shredder. As a bonus, the resulting strips can be used for packing material.

What is a cross cut shredder?

A cross cut shredder cuts your documents into small rectangular pieces called "chips". Cross cut shredders are more secure than a strip cut. The size of the chips determines the security level of the shredder. Due to the small size of the chips, the shred bin will hold much more - up to five times as much. This translates into fewer trips to dump the shredded paper.

What is a micro cut shredder?

A micro cut shredder is a cross cut shredder that cuts your ducuments into extremely small pieces. These are the highest security shredders, for those who have high risk data. Some are DoD and GSA approved for classified documents up to Top Secret.

Which do I need: strip cut, cross cut, or micro cut?

That depends on the material being shredded. As a general rule:
  • A strip cut shredder is good for ordinary business or personal documents: Invoices, packing slips, customer lists, vendor orders, and personal notes. You should use a strip cut shredder for anything that might be subject to casual curiosity or low-level snooping.
  • A cross cut shredder is good for sensitive documents: Ledgers, bank statements, credit card statements, critical business reports, salary reports, and personnel records. You should use a cross cut shredder for anything that could be of value to a criminal or to your competitor.
  • A micro cut shredder is good for extremely sensitive documents: Business and trade secrets, sensitive customer data, new product designs, DOD or HIPAA records. You should use a micro-cut shredder for anything that is extremely valuable.
If you buy only one shredder, it should be purchased with your most valuable documents in mind.

What does throat width mean?

Throat width is the width of the slot that accepts the pages to be shredded. The throat width should be slightly larger than the narrow dimension of the paper to be shredded. For example, if you have letter, legal, or A4 sized pages, the throat width should be 9-10 inches. Larger sheets can be shredded by folding them before inserting into the shredder. This should be avoided for all but exceptional cases, since folding is time-consuming and much more likely to result in a jam.

What does the number of sheets mean?

The number of sheets of 20# paper that the shredder can accept at one time. Heavier paper, folded sheets, envelopes, etc. will reduce this number. We recommend that you shred a maximum of 2 - 3 sheets less than the listed maximum for any shredder. This will significantly extend the shredder's life expectancy.

What does shred speed mean?

The speed at which the shredder pulls paper through the cutting heads. Combined with the number of sheets, this will give you the maximum capacity of the shredder in sheets per minute.

What does shred size mean?

Shred size is the size of the pieces that a shredder will cut your document into. For strip cut shredders, this is the width of the strip (The length is the length of the page). For cross-cut shredders, this is the length and width of the chip of paper. The smaller this size is, the more secure the shredded documents are.

My documents have paper clips or staples. Do I need to remove them first?

Most shredders today will handle staples. The better shredders will also accept paper clips without damage. If your shredder does not, you must be certain to remove all paper clips before shredding. Mechanical bindings must also be removed.

I need to be able to shred CDs, CD-Rs, DVDs, etc.

Some shredders can safely shred CDs. If you need to shred CDs, DVDs, etc., check the specifications of the shredder you are considering or contact us for a recommendation.

What does sound level mean?

All shredders make noise. The sound level given in the charts indicates how much noise a given shredder will produce. 73 db is considered the maximum for office use. Lower numbers indicate a machine that will produce less noise.

What is the difference between intermittent and continuous duty?

Intermittent duty motors are rated for occasional use only. Use of these shredders for more than a few minutes at a time will cause the motor to overheat. An overheated motor may shut down to protect the shredder from damage. Repeated overheating will shorten the shredder's life at the very least, and may cause it to fail. If your shredder overheats, let it cool down for at least 30 minutes before attempting to use it again. A continuous duty motor means the shredder can be operated for as long as you need to use it.

Should I get a shredder that has a bin or one that uses bags?

Bags are easier to close up and carry to the trash. Bins do not have any recurring cost, but they may spread paper waste around the office while being carried to the trash. Most shredders today are set up to use bags.

How large a bag/bin capacity do I need?

The larger the bag or bin, the more documents you can shred before making a trip to the dumpster. The increase in productivity is significant when measured over the life of the shredder.

What are personal paper shredders?

Personal shredders are designed for occasional use by a single person. Most are designed to fit in a small space next to a desk. They are very convenient, but they are not designed for continuous or heavy use. The shred bin is usually about the size of an office trash can.

What are office paper shredders?

Office shredders are larger than personal shredders. They are designed to handle the needs of several people in a small company or department. Office shredders have a more powerful motor that is rated for continuous duty. They also run faster and can handle more sheets of paper at a time. Office shredders should be centrally located if everyone in the office will be using the machine.

What are production paper shredders?

Production shredders are larger than office or personal shredders. They are designed to handle the needs of a medium or large company. Production shredders have much larger motors and a wide throat for handling oversize documents. They are often located in a warehouse, loading dock, or similar area.

What are high security paper shredders?

High security (or micro cut) shredders cut the paper into very tiny pieces. They are appropriate where the highest security is needed.
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