What factor should you base your decision on when buying a new paper shredder? You see, there are several paper shredder types in the market, and buying one without knowing what you are getting for your money is a mistake.
The most important factor is security. Have you ever watched a movie or TV series where shredded documents are reassembled into their original form and their contents read by people who shouldn’t have access to the sensitive information contained therein? Hint: that’s a nod to season one of Better Call Saul.
You see, there are three main paper shredder types, and these are what we’ll be discussing in this article. They are strip-cut, cross-cut, and micro-cut shredders. Strip-cuts and cross-cuts vary both in technique and output. The shredded paper pieces produced by these two shredder types vary in shape and size.
And that’s where security comes in. It’s possible for fraudsters or identity thieves to reassemble the shredded document into its original form and steal your sensitive information if you buy one of these shredder types. But with the second type of shredder, your information will be significantly more safe.
The question is: which one is safe, and which one is not? Read on to find out.
Strip-cuts offer the lowest level of security for your documents. They are commonly in many offices. If your shredder cuts standard letter size paper into long, thin strips, about 40 or 50 in total, and each strip as long as the original sheet of paper, you are the proud owner of a strip-cut shredder.
The problem is that these long strips of paper can be pieced together by a dedicated individual (overnight, with a flask full of coffee), thus compromising your sensitive information.
They are in fact the original type of shredder, which explains their ubiquity, despite offering low security. Besides, they are often less expensive and are still a better option for shredding general documents than manually tearing them and tossing them into the trash bin.
But they do have their upsides. Strip-cut shredders don’t need much maintenance as cross-cut shredders, affording you a relatively easy time. And they are cheaper.
They have sharp serrated wheels and blades which cut through paper or hard items like cards or staples. The sharper these serrated wheels, the more efficiently the shredder cuts. The serrations grab hold of the paper, enabling it to pass through while being shredded.
High-duty strip-cutters have serrated blades rather than serrated wheels. The blades are attached to a frame and move upward and downward while shredding.
Buy a strip-cut shredder if you don’t have particularly sensitive documents to shred. They are good for general-purpose use. Also, if you are looking for something low maintenance.
As we have already mentioned, a cross-cut paper shredder will cost you more than a strip-cut. It will also need more maintenance from you. But that is all worth it because of the high level of security they offer.
They are also known as confetti cut shredders and are popular with people or organizations with highly sensitive documents to destroy. If your shredder cuts standard letter size paper into small square pieces, more than 200 in total, it’s a cross-cut. A super cross-cut will cut the same sheet into over 400 pieces!
Did you know that certain computer programs have the ability to reassemble shredded documents from the strips thrown away after shredding? But it is near impossible for even these sophisticated software programs to piece together a document once it’s been shredded into confetti by a cross-cut.
The serrated blades in a cross-cut are arranged in two sets facing opposite directions. Moving in sequence in opposite directions, they cut paper into confetti-like pieces.
If you are looking for something that can irretrievably shred sensitive information like your credit card numbers, or client information, a cross-cut shredder is better than a strip-cut. But not better than a micro-cut.
Micro-cut shredders are just like cross-cuts. They use the same technique. The difference is in scale. Where an ordinary cross-cut will shred a standard letter size paper into 200 pieces, and at best 400 pieces, a micro-cut shredder will shred it to a staggering 2,000 pieces. At that level, retrieving your data is completely impossible.
As you can imagine, micro-cuts are popular with government agencies and big corporations and it is part of their NIST Standards for media destruction. But there is no reason you can’t get yourself one, if your information is extremely sensitive, and you have a lot to lose should it get into the wrong hands.
Paper Shredder Types Conclusion
So if you are looking to buy a new paper shredder, take security as your main determining factor, and evaluate the available options, based on their type. If have low-level security documents to shred, a strip-cut is sufficient. But if you have highly sensitive information you want to stay destroyed once shredded, consider either a cross-cut or a micro-cut.