I go into many apartments and home offices and see the small inexpensive shredder. I wonder how many times it has jammed, or stopped working altogether. And then it ends up collecting dust and taking up valuable floor space.
I think people are tempted to buy a shredder because it’s inexpensive or because they saw a “Best Seller” listing somewhere. A “Best Seller” rating is a lot different than a “Top Rated” rating. “Best Seller” doesn’t reflect consumers’ actual experiences with the shredders. It doesn’t mean those consumers made the best choices for their shredders. “Top Rated” is a much better gauge of performance.
So many shredders to choose from, so little time…
Once you’ve found a “Top Rated” listing you trust, here are some tips for selecting the best one for your needs and budget.
Shredder capacity: Choose the capacity that you need and can afford. Are you patient and don’t mind shredding only 8 sheets at a time? Or do you want it to go faster and prefer a larger capacity shredder?
Paper shredding methods: I recommend the cross-cut or confetti-cut method. If you are hyper vigilent, then go with a micro-cut.
Basic functions: Most shredders feature an auto function. This starts the shredder motor when it senses paper or other media being inserted. Most shredders also have a reverse setting. This is useful for clearing out paper jams.
Bells and whistles: If you want more advanced features…
Auto-feeder – Lets you place up to 100 sheets in a tray to be shredded automatically. Sounds heavenly!
CD/DVD/Floppy Disc slot – Has a specific slot for shredding things like CDs, DVDs, floppy discs, and other heavier media.
Paper jam indicator – Lets you know that the paper shredder has a paper jam that needs to be addressed.
Overheat indicator – Lets you know that the motor is being overworked and needs to cool off.
Touch sensor – Stops the motor if it senses anything touching the paper entry area. This safety feature prevents accidental cuts.
Cost: I recommend you spend at least $100. See it as a long-term investment in your identity protection.
Brand/Model: I don’t think you can go wrong with Amazon’s Top Rated listings. As of February, 2014, the AmazonBasics 12-Sheet High security Micro-Cut Shredder is their #1 Top Rated shredder (see image). Do your due diligence. Make an educated choice and your shredder should last for some time to come.
Shredding Options: Finally, if you have a lot of shredding to do, if might be worth taking it to a FedEx Office or Staples store. They will have it shredded for you for 79¢ a pound.
Alternatively, you can have a shred truck come to your apartment and shred on the spot while you watch. The minimum cost will be around $90.
Or you can always wait for a free shred fest in your town. New York City’s annual ShredFest always takes place in May at various greenmarkets. Sometimes, there are other free Shred-a-Thons at other times of the year.
Finally, if you have a fireplace, you can always burn your important documents in there. Or if you ski, you can usually find an outside fire pit near the lodge.