What do paper shredders do?

Paper shredders convert whole pieces of paper into unreadable scraps. They are essential for today's workplace to protect sensitive information. Learn about professional paper shredding services, different types of paper shredders and how much paper shredders cost.

Paper shredders cut documents into small, unreadable pieces. Although popular in government agencies for decades, in-home use of paper shredders grew in popularity over the last 30 years.

Most businesses use paper shredding services to protect customer information from would-be identity thieves. These companies usually hire a firm that shreds documents in bulk.

Most shredders run on electricity. However, some people still use hand-cranked models or special scissors with several blades to perform the same action.

The size and cost of a paper shredder depends on the types of jobs it can handle. There are many options available for purchase. Some shredders are even capable of shredding credit cards and CDs.

Types of paper shredders

Strip-cut shredders cut the paper into even strips. This is the least secure type of paper shredder because the pieces remain easy to put back together.

Cross-cut

Cross-cut shredders cut paper twice, resulting in a diamond shape. These are a little more secure than strip-cut shredders.

Particle-cut

This shredder converts the paper into small shapes, such as a square or circle.

Grinder

These shredders grind paper with rotating blades until the particles are small enough to fall through a mesh screen.

Paper shredding costs

As with many other appliances, paper shredder prices vary widely, and most brands come in high- and low-end models.

Average cost for paper shredders:

Personal paper shredders: $20 to $500

Small and medium business shredders: $200 to $1,500

Commercial shredders: $300 to $10,000

High-security shredders: $200 to $6,000

Paper shredding services

Some businesses hire second-party companies to pick up their sensitive documents and shred them in order to protect client information.

These services use trucks to pick up the material and transport it to a site for shredding. There are companies that have mobile units with shredders built into their trucks so they can shred the papers in the company's parking lot. Some shredding services even have a drop-off option where individuals take items to their facility to be shredded.

The cost to use a shredding service will vary based on the frequency of their visits, whether they perform on-site or off-site service and if they charge for fuel. Typical cost for one on-site visit is $100 to $150, but if you agree to a recurring schedule of shredding the price drops to $45 to $75 per visit.

Tips for hiring a shredder service

• Look into the company's reputation. Make sure they have a record of protecting sensitive information

• Find a company that will show you their process. You should be able to watch your items through the process, and it shouldn't be shrouded in secrecy

• Make sure they use a cutting method that maximizes the protection of information. A shredding company shouldn't use strip-cut shredders, the cut needs to be more complex

How to buy a paper shredder

Most major retailers, online stores and specialty office supply stores sell paper shredders.

• Compare prices and functionality before you make your purchase to ensure the paper shredder fulfills your needs

• Check the manufacturer's website for in-depth descriptions and specifications

• Research the features of each shredder you may buy, and if possible, test each model before you make a purchase

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