Best Paper Shredders
Published on By Maralyn Edid
AmazonBasics 8-Sheet Cross-Cut Shredder Review
From $35 Best
- Strong performer for home use, according to expert and user reviews.
- Shreds credit cards, staples, and small paper clips.
- Window lets users see when it's time to empty the 4.1-gallon wastebasket.
- LED overheat indicator light.
- Lifting handle on motor head.
- 4.3 out of 5 stars from more than 2,500 reviewers on Amazon.
- "Best Bang for the Buck" in BestReviews testing.
- Some users consider the motor head too heavy to lift comfortably, even with the handle.
- Does not accept CDs/DVDs.
- Short strips measuring 3/16 x 1 27/32 inches might not be secure enough for some users.
Takeaway: The AmazonBasics 8-Sheet Cross-Cut Shredder is a top value buy. Many reviewers say it cuts the maximum eight sheets of paper without strain. Scattered reports of jams and early demise, common in this price range, attach to this shredder, as well. But many more reviews praise the build quality, reliability, and power.
Fellowes Powershred W11C Review
From $68 Best
- Plenty of power quickly cuts through thick paper and multiple sheets, users say.
- Shredded particles measure 5/32 x 1 3/8 inches for good security.
- Long 5-minute run time and short 20-minute cool-down period.
- Patented safety lock disables the shredder.
- Unusually long 3-year warranty on the cutter (1 year on the entire machine).
- Shreds credit cards and staples.
- 4 out of 5 stars from more than 3,000 reviewers on Amazon.
- Does not accept CDs/DVDs or paper clips.
- No window on the 4.75-gallon bin.
- Feed slot near the back of the unit may discourage storage under a desk.
Takeaway: This Fellowes shredder is beefy enough for home or small office use and carries on like a champ, users say. A strong brand following only solidifies praise for this 11-sheet cross-cut model. A tiny minority balk at the windowless wastebasket design and the position of the feed slot, and a few report jams and malfunctions. In general, though, reviewers extol its durability, safety lock, and seemingly effortless performance.
Insignia NS-PS10MC Review
From $70 Best
- Impressive all-around performance, reviewers say.
- Minces up to 10 sheets of paper into tiny 1/10 x 2/5-inch pieces.
- Accepts staples, credit cards, and CDs/DVDs (the latter in a separate slot).
- Pull-out 4.5-gallon receptacle with window makes for easy disposal.
- Wheels for portability.
- Indicator lights for power, overload, and overheat.
- 4.6 out of 5 stars from more than 1,100 reviewers on BestBuy.com.
- Information on run time and cool-down period appears only in fine print, prompting surprise among some users when the unit begins overheating after several minutes.
- Long cool-down time of 50 minutes before the shredder can be used again.
- May balk when presented with more than several sheets, some users report.
Takeaway: Best Buy's Insignia NS-PS10MC is the shredder for frugal consumers seeking a very high level of security for documents and media meant for disposal. Despite some grousing about a less-than-advertised capacity and run time, this is one of few micro-cut models in the budget zone.
Insignia NS-PS10CC Review
From $35 Good
- Chews up paper clips, staples, and CDs/DVDs in addition to paper.
- Large 5.3-gallon wastebasket with a window to show when it's getting full.
- Handle for lifting the motor head off the bin.
- Wide 9.1-inch feed slot.
- Performs consistently and meets the expectations of most home users.
- 4.5 out of 5 stars from nearly 2,000 reviewers on BestBuy.com.
- Cannot shred credit cards.
- Dull-looking design compared with others in its class.
- No specification for run time, prompting surprise among some users when it begins overheating after several minutes.
- Relatively long 50-minute cool-down period before the shredder can be used again.
Takeaway: Users like the low-cost efficiency of the Insignia NS-PS10CC from Best Buy, although some caution that this 10-sheet cross-cut shredder is at its best with a maximum of five sheets. This model shreds paper into 1/5 x 1 1/3-inch bits and, unlike most others tagged with a budget price, it can handle paper clips -- a time saver when cleaning out files.
Bonsaii DocShred C156-D Review
From $57 Good
- Takes up to 12 sheets and shreds lighter loads with ease, users report.
- Many reviews say it's suitable for a home office.
- Accepts credit cards, paper clips, staples, and CDs/DVDs.
- Larger-than-average bin (5.5 gallons) with a window.
- Compact footprint.
- Overheating protection.
- 4 out of 5 stars from more than 2,500 reviewers on Amazon.
- A bit pokey, some reviews say.
- May choke at loads short of the maximum 12-sheet capacity.
- Scattered reports of jams and malfunctions.
Takeaway: Users consider the Bonsaii DocShred C156-D cross-cut shredder a fair price for what you get. Its ability to chew up disks, paper, and related disposables, along with the large wastebasket, earn it a favored spot in many home offices. Although some reviews say it's underpowered, most are well pleased with the performance when not pushed to the limit.
AmazonBasics 8-Sheet Micro-Cut Shredder Review
From $60 Good
- Performs as advertised, most reviewers say.
- Shreds credit cards and CDs/DVDs.
- Automatic shut-off if the unit begins to overheat.
- Pull-out 3-gallon receptacle with a window.
- Comparatively quiet for this price class.
- Wheels for portability.
- 4.1 out of 5 stars from nearly 3,000 reviewers on Amazon.
- Some users report problems with auto-on, saying the unit continues to run when not in use unless switched off manually (frequent cleaning of the sensor may mitigate this issue).
- Relatively short 2-minute run time and long 40-minute cool-down period.
- Some reviewers grouse about flimsy build quality.
Takeaway: The AmazonBasics 8-Sheet Micro-Cut Shredder provides the high level of security many home users seek, chopping paper into teeny particles measuring 5/32 x 15/32 inches. (A separate slot for CDs/DVDs shreds with a straight cut.) Users appreciate convenience features such as the wheels and pull-out basket and say shredding proceeds quickly and relatively quietly.
Aurora AU1215XB Review
From $58 Think Twice
- Shreds all types of paper, including cardboard, reviews say, as well as credit cards, CDs/DVDs, paper clips, and staples.
- 12-sheet capacity.
- Power shuts off to prevent forced entry and a cover plate closes the feed slot when the shredder is not in use.
- 4.8-gallon wastebasket with window.
- Overload and overheat protection.
- Wheels for portability.
- Unusually large shreds, measuring 7/32 x 2 5/32 inches.
- Scattered reports of jams and unit failures.
- Relatively small bin for a 12-sheet shredder.
Takeaway: The Aurora AU1215XB is a workhorse that earns well over 4 stars from Walmart customers for its powerful performance and budget price. That said, the shreds are about 1 inch longer than other cross-cut shredders produce and, according to some reviews, could enable dedicated snoops to piece together personal or confidential information. For anyone hyper-focused on data security, this is not the shredder to buy.
Choosing a Paper Shredder
Identity theft and other forms of data theft make shredding essential for individuals as well as organizations. Unless you want to painstakingly cut up old tax returns, bank statements, credit cards, and more by hand, a paper shredder is a must-have item. The market is awash in paper shredders at prices ranging from about $15, for what's essentially a motor head that can be set atop a wastebasket, to more than $2,000, for a professional-grade model designed for a busy office that goes through lots of paper. Cheapism.com carefully scrutinized the available options and paper shredder reviews to find the best paper shredders under $75.
Paper Shredder Brands.The most popular names in this product category include Fellowes, Aurora, Royal, and store brands such as Staples. Amazon stocks all these brands and more, including Swingline, Bonsaii, GeoEcoLife, and Omnitech. The ecommerce giant also sells its own line of top-selling shredders under the AmazonBasics brand.
Types of Shredders.There are three types of paper shredders: strip cut, cross cut, and micro cut. A strip-cut shredder produces narrow strips and can accommodate more paper. Strip-cut shredders are useful for demolishing junk mail but aren't recommended for sensitive material, as a dedicated identity thief can reassemble these crude cuts fairly easily. Interestingly, a lot of commercial-grade shredders use this cutting technique, but there aren't many strip-cut options in the budget realm. Most of our picks are cross-cut shredders, which are available at all price points. A cross-cut shredder slices and dices paper and other media both vertically and horizontally, creating short strips that assure greater security.
Moving up the security ladder gets to shredders with a micro, or diamond, cut, which turns documents into confetti-like bits. Micro-cut shredders are slower than cross-cutters, but micro-cut shreds take up less space, so the bin doesn't have to be emptied as often. Once sold only at prices above the Cheapism ceiling, this style is now available at budget prices; several of our favorite shredders are micro-cutters.
Pricey vs. Cheap Paper Shredders.Whatever the cut style, high-end shredders can decimate more sheets of paper at one pass than cheaper models, shred at a faster rate, and run continuously for longer periods. They come with larger waste receptacles, are more likely to have convenience features like rolling casters, and come with longer warranties. They also may feature hands-free, or auto-feed, shredding. They typically can ingest credit cards, CDs/DVDs, paper clips, and staples, while cheap shredders often lack one or more of those functions, or tend to choke on fasteners.
Shredding Services.The secret of cost-efficient shredding is staying on top of things; that is, shredding private documents frequently, before they pile up. For a major project, like shredding 20 years' worth of financial records or old college journals, a one-time bulk shredding service may be a smarter way to go. Shred Nations and Shred-it, for example, make home or office calls for on- or off-site shredding, with prices starting at about $60 for 300 pounds. Office Depot/OfficeMax and Staples also offer shredding services, with prices starting at $20 for a bin that holds up to 25 pounds.
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Features Comparison Buying Guide continues below table
Paper Shredder Reviews: What We Considered
Each model highlighted in this buying guide earns at least 4 stars from hundreds or thousands of users in reviews on Amazon, Walmart.com, BestBuy.com, and Staples.com. Some also earn recommendations from review sites such as BestReviews and TechGearLab, which do comparative product testing. According to the expert and consumer reviews we read, getting the job done efficiently, and without incident, is the primary goal. Other features, such as run time and durability, occasionally come under scrutiny as well. We ignored complaints about noise, because cheap shredders are just plain noisy; the decibel differences among them are tiny.
All the paper shredders we researched are subject to a fair number of complaints about paper jams and assorted malfunctions, like overheating and never starting up again or giving out just after the warranty expires. Still, reviews indicate that users of the better budget models are satisfied with their ability to chew up paper and, where relevant, credit cards and other media.
Capacity.The amount of paper a shredder can handle at one time, or in one "pass," is a crucial consideration for most buyers and the basis for many review ratings. Pricey professional shredders with heavy-duty capabilities can shred upward of 20 or even 40 sheets with each pass. The cheapest models might take only three, or one sheet folded in thirds. Our top picks accept at least eight sheets at a time and are wide enough that users don't have to fold an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper (8.7 inches is fairly standard, although a few models feature a wider slot).
Reviews indicate that not all shredders live up to their advertised capacity, however. While some users grumble about their disappointment, others argue that inserting fewer sheets than the maximum puts less strain on the machine and increases its longevity.
Even the best paper shredders sometimes jam up and stop in their tracks. Relieving the blockage typically requires a reverse action. On most cheap models, users must manually switch to reverse; some more expensive machines reverse on their own to clear the jam and then go about their business.
Many entry-level paper shredders can also cut up credit cards and/or CDs/DVDs (one at a time, please). For some users this function is irrelevant, but for others, especially those who back up personal files and information on physical media, it's critical. With the looming disappearance of CD/DVD drives on new computers, some consumers need a way to securely destroy confidential data on those outdated disks.
Run Time.Shredders shut down automatically when the stated run time has elapsed, or soon after, to avoid overheating. Budget paper shredders have fairly short run times -- generally on the order of 2 to 5 minutes, far shorter than those designed for heavy-duty office use. They also need long cool-down periods between bouts of shredding; some stipulate 40 minutes. Although a few reviews report a longer run time than the specified maximum, many reviewers express exasperation with these limitations, as they impede efficiency.
Bin Size/Style.The shredders we researched have one of two bin styles: pull-out console or wastepaper basket. With the former, users pull out a drawer-like bin that collects the scraps. With the latter, the shredder mechanism is lifted off a receptacle that comes with the unit. Reviewers write that both can make a mess when dumping the waste into a larger container. Lining the basket with a bag may mitigate the problem.
As with any waste receptacle, the larger it is, the less frequently it must be emptied. Bin sizes for cheap paper shredders range from about 1.5 gallons to more than 5 gallons. Remember, micro-cut shreds take up less room than cross-cut, so a bin of equivalent size doesn't need to be emptied as often. (Tip: Shredded paper can be recycled as garden mulch and packing filler.)
Safety Features.Most paper shredders can be set to turn on automatically when paper is fed into the shredder throat (the slot where material is inserted). These models stop automatically when the material has completely run through the blades, and they typically also have a manual "off" switch that ensures the unit is completely shut down.
Some brands have proprietary safety mechanisms that prevent fingers from triggering the auto-on function and getting tangled in the blades. Effectively, this means that when a foreign object -- human or otherwise -- gets too close to the slot, the shredder automatically shuts down. Several Fellowes shredders boast a patented safety lock that disables the cutter, ensuring the motor won't start no matter what the position of the control switch. These advanced safety features generally appear on pricier shredders, but as some reviewers point out, the most effective safety measure is to simply unplug the machine after every use (manufacturers recommend this even for models with their patented safety technology).
Durability.This is an issue that crops up with some regularity in reviews. Although our preferred models seem to provide ongoing and reliable service -- at least for a few years -- we found reviews bemoaning the short lifespan of each. Some users report that a shredder failed from the get-go; others relate total breakdowns within a matter of days or months. Problems cluster around jams that can't be cleaned out and unexplained motor failure. We also read comments about models with automatic shut-off that continue running even though no paper is being fed through.
The typical warranty in the budget price range runs for one year, and many units last far longer without any hiccups. Regular oiling of the shredding mechanism with special lubricant oil or paper helps keep things running smoothly; check the manufacturer's instructions.
Additional Products We Considered
Bonsaii DocShred C560-D Review
- Very low price for a micro-cut shredder.
- Thermal overload protection.
- 4-gallon wastebasket with a window.
- 4 out of 5 stars from more than 2,500 reviewers on Amazon.
- Relatively short 2-minute run time and long 40-minute cool-down time.
- Maximum 6-sheet intake.
- Not suitable for credit cards or CDs/DVDs.
Takeaway: Even cheaper than some cross-cut shredders, the Bonsaii DocShred C560-D has limited functionality but might appeal to budget-minded users determined to mince documents with personal data into the tiniest of pieces. Like other inexpensive entry-level shredders, it receives its share of reviews about jams and overloads and is best for occasional use.
AmazonBasics 12-Sheet Micro-Cut Shredder Review
- Sufficient bite for office and heavy-duty home use, reviews say.
- Longest run time of any model we researched, at 8 minutes, with a 45-minute cool-down period.
- Large 6.7-gallon pull-out bin with a window.
- Accepts credit cards and CDs/DVDs.
- Wheels for portability.
- 4.5 out of 5 stars from more than 3,500 reviewers on Amazon.
- TechGearLab Editors' Choice.
- Some griping about shreds spilling out when opening bin drawer.
- Scattered reports of jams, malfunctions, and early product failure.
Takeaway: Users sing the praises of this mid-priced micro-cut shredder from Amazon. It's tough enough that some businesses have replaced professional shredding services, and plenty of reviews say it hits the 12-sheet mark with ease (there are claims to the contrary, however). Overall, it scores for power, quiet performance, and ease of use.
Staples Mailmate M7 Review
- Exceeds users' expectations, shredding thick envelopes and up to 12 sheets without strain.
- Comparatively long 5-minute run time, with 30-minute cool-down period.
- Table/desktop size is convenient for seniors.
- Quieter than other budget models.
- Thermal overload protection.
- Auto-reverse to help clear paper jams.
- 4.2 out of 5 stars from more than 1,600 reviewers on the Staples site.
- Some users consider the 1.62-gallon bin too small.
- Scattered reports of defective units or limited longevity.
Takeaway: The usual complaints about malfunctioning units aside, the Staples Mailmate M7 wins fans for its compact size, user-friendly pull-out receptacle, and functionality. Many reviews extol its suitability for home and small offices. Its price exceeds the Cheapism ceiling, but for shoppers needing tabletop convenience, this model is hard to pass up.
Fellowes Powershred 125Ci Review
- Shreds like a beast, reviews say; very fast and relatively quiet.
- Continuous run time of about 45 minutes is good for large jobs.
- Anti-jam system refuses overly thick stacks and reverses when necessary to release blockages.
- SafeSense feature automatically disables the cutter when a hand touches the opening.
- Accepts credit cards, staples, paper clips, and CDs/DVDs.
- 14-gallon pull-out bin.
- LED "full" indicator light.
- Slim, compact footprint and wheels for portability.
- 2-year warranty.
- Bin may need jostling to distribute 5/32 x 1 1/2-inch shreds evenly.
- May balk at stacks shorter than the maximum 20 sheets.
- Scattered reports of jams and assorted malfunctions.
Takeaway: The Fellowes Powershred 125Ci is a modestly priced commercial-grade cross-cut shredder, well suited to small businesses and midsize offices. Aside from some disgruntled reviews citing underwhelming performance, this 20-sheet model earns high praise from users for power, reliability, and efficiency: It keeps on going without slowing down or heating up.