Paper shredders are the ideal tool if you’re mindful of security.
The best models have a range of features designed to make it as easy as possible to dispose of your personal data and avoid identity theft.
We explain the difference between micro-cut shredders and cross-cut shredders, the benefits of CD and credit card slots, and why you should watch out for overflows.
Only Which?’s in-depth lab testing can single out the very best shredders. But there are other specifications you can check in the shop before buying your shredder.
Our interactive tool will walk you through the key features and buying decisions to consider.
You may not be aware that the type of shredder you purchase will have an impact on the overall security of your document shredding.
Shredders traditionally were strip-cut, also known as ribbon-cut, models that shredded the paper into thin strips. Although it would require patience, it would be possible to reconstruct the strips into a legible document.
More secure are cross-cut models, sometimes known as diamond-cut, as they shred the paper into small pieces a bit like wedding confetti. It would be much harder for someone to reassemble them.
The most secure type is micro-cut, as these models slice paper into such tiny pieces that a criminal would find it extremely difficult, near impossible, to put them back together.
Paper shredders aren’t the most attractive of machines, so you would probably prefer one that won’t take up too much space. In fact, you may want to choose a model that will squeeze into a cupboard when not in use. The smallest shredder we’ve tested is a dinky 24x19x15cm.
Pros: As well as being easier to store away, small home shredders are easy to move around. And, generally speaking, the smaller the shredder the less you’ll pay. In fact, we've found a few Best Buy shredders for less than £60.
Cons: The very smallest shredders won’t even take A4 paper unless you fold it first, and you’ll have to empty the bin more regularly, too. So if you’re frequently destroying a lot of documents, go for something bigger.
We’ve tested shredders that tower over the half-metre mark. You probably wouldn’t want one in your living room, but bulkier machines may be a better option if you run a business or if you have stacks of information to shred.
Pros: The bigger the shredder, the more space inside its bin. You’ll be able to feed more sheets of paper simultaneously with these larger models, and they tend to be able to take thicker materials, too
Cons: Avoid these shredders if you want something you can easily pop away in the cupboard after use. As with a lot of household products, the bigger they come the more they cost.
As well as size, price and cutting type, there are plenty of other aspects that you need to consider when purchasing a paper shredder. We’ve rounded up the features to look out for when you go shredder shopping:
You should shred anything that bears your name, address or financial details. The most obvious items include bank statements, utility bills and legal documents.
However, there’s a variety of other material that potentially contains personal information, and so you shouldn’t just throw it away, including;
If the document doesn’t have any personal data, then there’s no need to spend time and effort shredding it. Just put it in the recycling bin instead
The following functions probably won’t be deal breakers, but may prove handy:
DIN stands for Deutsches Institut für Normung, which is essentially the standards body for Germany. It sets standards for products that apply across Europe and internationally.
The DIN standard for shredders essentially rates the size of shredded bits based on a seven point scale, going from 1 being the largest pieces to 7 being such tiny particles that this would satisfy even the most stringent security needs.
If you have a lot of sensitive data that you want to shred, we'd recommend you go for a DIN level of 3 of higher, as this should reduce it to pieces that are hard to put back together.
You can see the DIN security level of all shredders we test in the Tech Specs tab on each review. You can also filter the reviews based on DIN level.