Club Shred

Owning a small business can unfortunately create some personal privacy issues. Using a paper shredder can help ensure that your sensitive documents don’t fall into the wrong hands. By Charles Cooper

Shredders come in all shapes and sizes, from inexpensive, low-capacity models you can put onto your garbage bin, to pricy models that can handle high volumes of paper, not to mention plastic, staples and even paper clips and come in wheeled cabinets that you can move around your office. Your choice of a shredder depends on how much you plan to destroy—and how completely you need it to be destroyed. They all, however, basically work the same way, by feeding the page(s) between two intermeshing rotating blades that split the paper into many small pieces. The only real differences come down to volume and the type of cut.

Types of Shredders:

Personal vs. Commercial

Paper shredders come in two basic types: personal and commercial. The choice will be based on the size of your operation, how many people will be using the machines, how much and how often.

The personal shredder is a low-volume machine, typically handing up to ten sheets per pass, designed for occasional use by a single person. They will usually only handle paper and tend to overheat after 10 to 15 minutes of constant use. The best way to keep it running is to follow the manufacturer’s directions and to be careful not to overload it.

Commercial shredders, on the other hand, are far more robust and flexible. They tend to have more powerful motors and can take more pages at a time than a personal shredder and work for a far longer period of time. These are usually console units, and if they get the regular maintenance they need they can last as long as 10 years before needing to be replaced. The next step up from a commercial office-grade shredder is a large industrial shredder, though these are normally found in warehouses and are not suitable for offices due to their size and noise.

Shredder Features

Once you have determined what kind of shredder you want, there are some things you ought to look for including cut, paper capacity, the ability to handle non-paper items and shredding speed.

Cut refers to how the shredder actually cuts up the paper and there are two kinds: Strip-cut and cross-cut. The choice really depends on issues of security. For most documents, strip-cut, which slices the documents into ribbons ranging from less than a quarter of an inch up to 1-inch in width, is sufficient. However, these can be put together again if they are found. During the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis, the so-called “students” who took over the US embassay in Teheran painstakingly put the strip-cut shredded intelligence documents together and showed them off to the media. This led to an improvement in document shredding that brought us the cross-cut shredder. This machine cuts both lengthwise and widthwise, turning the document into as much as 800 pieces of confetti. For the majority of sensitive documents, this is fine, but there are also “particle cut” shredders that can shred a page into more than 1,500 pieces.

Paper capacity refers both to how much paper you can feed into the machine at one time as well as the capacity of the machine to store the shredded product. Generally, the higher the better, but remember that emptying the machine and bagging up all that confetti can be a real chore. Shredding speed is simply the speed at which a given sheet of paper is rendered into scraps and taken together with the paper feed capacity makes up the machine’s shredding volume. There are also shredders that can handle crumpled paper as well as specialty shredders that can take care of plastic objects like credit cards, CDs, DVDs, videocassettes, and computer diskettes.

Once you have decided on the kind of use you will put the shredder to, as well as the volume and cut you want, it is time to go shopping. Here are our picks for personal, commercial and industrial shredders.

Personal Shredders

Fellowes® Intellishred™ PS-79Ci Cross-Cut Shredder
Ideal for a small office, the PS-79Ci is designed for a single user who will likely be making less than 50 passes per day. It shreds up to 12 sheets at a time, chopping them into 0.16” x 1.5” cross-cut pieces at a maximum shred speed of 11 feet per minute. The 9” width of the opening accepts both letter- and legal-size pages and the hardened steel cutting cylinders chew up paper and also slice through staples, paper clips, credit cards and CDs and DVDs. The 6-gallon bin is spacious for the units intended use and can be easily pulled out and emptied.

This machine comes with Fellowes’ SafeSense® technology, which stops the shredder immediately when it senses that your hands are too close to paper opening. Also, its jam-proof mechanical system prevents overloads, thus keeping the unit from overheating, while the cutting cylinders power through misfed paper.

Price: $199.99

Ativa™ OD619MD Microcut Shredder
The OD619MD is a lighter-duty machine that at 6 sheets per pass and a maximum shred speed of 7.2 feet per minute handles about half the volume of the PS-79Ci above. It makes up for this, however, with its quiet operation and by chopping the paper down into 0.13” x 0.34” microcut pieces. The machine can also handle CDs, credit cards, paper clips and staples.

The 8.7” width opening accepts letter- and legal-size pages, ShredSafe technology protects hands from injury by stopping the machine when it senses the operator’s hands are too close, and the 4.2-gallon pull-out wastebasket is easy to empty.

Price: $129.99

Commercial Shredders

Fellowes® C-320C Commercial Cross-Cut Shredder
This high-performance unit with a 10” opening shreds up to 16 sheets in a single pass and is designed to meet the needs of most departments. The shreds are 5/32” x 1-1/8” in size and the machine’s maximum shred speed is 20 feet per minute. Also featured are overload protection to keep the machine from overheating, manual reverse and auto start/stop.

The C-320C accepts standard documents, but it also allows continuous feeding of 80-column paper and can easily handle staples, paper clips, credit cards and CDs, which have their own designated slot. The 24.6-gallon wastebasket is easy to work with and features a full-bag indicator to let you know when it’s time to empty. The unit is backed by the manufacturer’s 3-year warranty on product and service, and lifetime cutter warranty.

Price: $1,249.99

Fellowes C-420C 100% Jam Proof 26-Sheet Cross-Cut Shredder
The C-420C is a heavy duty commercial shredder that is designed for the needs of larger offices. It features Fellowes’ Jam Proof System that prevents paper overloads and chews through misfeeds, and an Auto Oil function that automatically oils cutters for optimal shredder performance.

Powered by a continuous duty Powershred motor, the unit can handle 24-26 sheets per pass (not to mention CDs, credit cards, paper clips, and staples) through its 12” wide paper entry, reducing even larger documents and continuous feed 80-column paper into 5/32” x 1-1/2” cross-cut particles. SafeSense Technology stops the shredder when the user’s hands are too close to the opening and the 32-gallon bin is easy to pull out and empty.

Price: $2,139.99

Industrial Shredders

Ativa™ V450C Cross-Cut Shredder
This mobile, high performance shredder is designed for EDP departments and office floors. It can handle up to 85 sheets in a single pass through its big 17.4” paper entry, reducing them to cross-cut 0.125” x 2” pieces at a maximum shred speed of 43-62 feet per minute.

The shredder has green features in the form of a patented, low energy consumption motor and modern electronic controller for maximum efficiency. The solid steel V-Tek cutting cylinders can destroy entire computer listings and shred store cards and credit cards as well as CDs, floppy disks and DAT cartridges; all of which end up in the 76.6-gallon capacity wire rack for easy bag replacement.

Other features include automatic start/stop control in addition to a conventional rocker switch for on/off and reverse; a stand-by mode with LED indicator, an automatic stop feature with LED and a convenient automatic reverse in the event of a paper jam. The V450C is backed by the manufacturer’s 2-year parts and labor warranty and a 20-year warranty on the steel cutters.

Price: $6,999.00

High Security Shredders

Dahle 20834EC Office High Security NSA/CSS 02-01 Specification Microcut Shredder
The 20834EC is perfect for military, federal, state or local government agencies as well as Department of Defense contractors engaged in projects where national security is an issue. It exceeds NSA/CSS Specification 02-01 with no compromise to operation or dependability, making it a Level 6 security shredder.

The unit can handle 8 – 10 sheets at a time at speeds of 20 feet per minute. The resulting particles are 1mm by 4.7mm in size. The feed opening is 16” wide and the waste container is a large 35 gallons. The machine has automatic on/off and auto reverse features as well as a bag full indicator and a 2-horse power continuous duty motor that provides over an hour of shredding time with each use.

Price: $8,995.00

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