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Updated: 4 Mar 2022

How we test shredders

Our expert shredder reviews uncover the most secure models around. Discover how we test shredders in the Which? lab.
Andrew Laughlin

A paper shredder has to work hard in order to earn our Best Buy status. But, as our tests prove, you don't always have to break the bank to pick up a shredder recommended by Which?.

We put a range of paper shredders from big-name brands through their paces to see if they deserve a spot in your home office. 

Our reviews answer the most crucial questions about shredders:

  • What type of shredder should I buy?
  • What makes a secure shredder?
  • How quick is the average shredder?
  • How long do shredders last?
  • Should I buy it?

To see which shredders top our tests, head over to our shredder reviews.

What type of shredder should I buy?

Shredders come in all shapes and sizes, and the type you purchase will have an effect on overall security.

Micro-cut shredders create the smallest confetti of any paper shredders that we test, beating cross-cut models (sometimes known as diamond-cut) in this regard. Strip-cut (sometimes known as ribbon-cut) is the least thorough, which means that the confetti produced could potentially be pieced back together with minimal bother.

Some shredders can destroy CDs and credit cards, making them an ideal fit if you have sensitive data written to a disc. For more tips on picking the perfect shredder for you, see our guide on how to buy the best paper shredder.

What makes a secure shredder?

If you're planning on destroying sensitive documents, our expert reviews can ensure you pick up a truly secure shredder. Our security score for shredders is based on the size of the confetti produced and how consistent it is. One of the best models we've tested to date produces confetti measuring a miniscule 8x3mm, making it very tricky to piece back together.

The higher our star rating for security, the smaller the paper confetti after shredding. Which? members can see which of our tested models have earned four stars or more on our shredder reviews.

How quick is the average shredder?

When it comes to picking a new shredder, you'll want a model that can get to work sooner rather than later. Our own speed rating for shredders is based on how quickly it takes to shred 25 consecutive A4 sheets of paper.

At the time of writing, our speediest shredder tested takes less than a minute (54 seconds) to shred 25 consecutive sheets of paper.

How long do shredders last?

Our overall durability score for shredders is based on how well the machine lasts over a 1,000 page-run in 50-page batches. For every model we test, shredders are penalised for overheating during operation and for developing paper jams.

It's not unusual to see our Best Buy shredders fly through these durability tests. In fact, our highest-rated model to date didn't encounter a single blockage when shredding those 1,000 pages.

Should I buy it?

For each shredder that passes through our test lab, we pay close attention to its key features to see if it's worth of Best Buy status. Only the shredders that are easy to set up and proven to be secure make the grade. See below for a breakdown of what makes up our test score:

  • 60%...performance
  • 20%...ease of use
  • 10%...noise
  • 10%...durability

A shredder has to achieve 75% or more to earn our Best Buy recommendation, and anything scoring below 45% is highlighted as a Don't Buy that we think you should steer clear of. For more tips on picking the perfect model for you, see our guide on how to buy the best shredder.