Although businesses are increasingly ‘going paperless’ the shredding machine is still a feature of many offices where information is handled, processed and filed in paper format. Document shredding protects information from being read by the over-inquisitive, and in the case of sensitive and confidential data, from falling into the wrong hands.Shredding paper also helps the environment as it is more easily recycled and can find further use as packing material or animal bedding. But if you are thinking of buying or replacing an office shredder (or outsourcing your confidential document destruction
) there are a few key points you need to bear in mind.
Should I Choose A Strip-Cut Or Cross-Cut Shredder?
There are two ways that shredders cut up paper documents – strip-cut and cross-cut. Let’s look at the differences.
These are the most common types of shredders and are more likely to be seen in a home or small office where the demand for paper shredding is small, and are widely available from office supply companies, on Amazon and even sometimes from supermarkets.If you want to turn junk mail into something useful like bedding for your hamster or cheap cat litter, a strip-cut shredder will be fine. They are also suitable for a small office, providing you aren’t using them to shred documents containing the personal data of others.The biggest problem with a strip-cut shredder is that as it only shreds the paper in one direction, it comes out the other end in neat, parallel strips, rather like fresh-made tagliatelle. This means it is quite easy for anyone with a few rolls of clear tape and plenty of patience to reassemble a document and read the information it contained.
A cross-cut shredder offers an additional line of defence against data theft, cutting the paper first into strips and then chopping the strips into shorter lengths. An inexpensive cross-cut shredder will protect your personal data on discarded bills, medical and dental appointment letters and so on at home, but you need to be careful if you are using it in a business capacity to shred documents containing the personal data of other people.In the GDPR definition of personal data, this can be any information that could potentially lead to a real living person being identified. This goes wider than data such as credit card details and driving licence numbers; it includes a name or part of an address and even an IP address of a computer.This means that while reassembling a document that has been chopped into hundreds of tiny squares might be an onerous task, it is technically feasible and cross-cut shredders with a coarser cut may not comply with GDPR.Another advantage of cross-cut shredders over strip-cut shredders is that the waste output is much more compact. The shredder bin will need emptying much less frequently and you will reduce your volume of recycled waste.
What Shredding Security Level Do I Need?
Before you decide whether a shredder is best for you, look for its DIN level. This is nothing to do with the noise it makes while running (although we’ll come to that later) but refers to the DIN Security Level, also known as the DIN 32757-1 standard.There are six DIN security levels, as follows:
- DIN 1 – General – Low Security
These strip-cut shredders are fine for home use, cutting paper into strips up to 12 mm wide. Don’t use a DIN 1 shredder to destroy documents containing bank account details, passwords etc. though, as they can be easily reassembled.
- DIN 2 – Internal – Low To Medium Security
With DIN 2 you will still only get a strip-cut shredder but the strips will be much smaller, up to 6 mm wide. This is a better option for home use or even a small office, providing you aren’t using it for documents that contain personal data belonging to other persons.
- DIN 3 – Confidential – Medium Security
DIN 3 security covers both strip-cut and cross-cut shredders, with the paper strips from a DIN3 strip-cut shredder being under 2 mm wide and cross-cutting adding a further deterrent to the most determined data thief. We would suggest a DIN 3 shredder might be the most suitable option for the destruction of all commercially-sensitive documents such as sales and marketing plans, financial forecasts and product development work.
- DIN 4 – Secret – Medium To High Security
To comply with DIN 4 a shredder must cut documents into strips of no more than 2 mm wide and 15 mm long. A DIN 4 shredder will comply with GDPR for the destruction of personal data and should be the choice of any company or organisation handling information relating to employees, personal customers, legal and financial clients and medical or healthcare patients.
- DIN 5 – Top Secret – High Security
It would be unusual to see a DIN 5 shredder in a standard office environment, as these are designed for use in government and military establishments where data is at risk of espionage or could undermine national security if leaked.With a DIN 5 shredder, documents are reduced to particles that are 0.8 mm wide and 12 mm long.
- DIN 6 – Maximum – Highest Security
DIN 6 is reserved for government and military establishments where an enhanced level of security is required, reducing documents to particles with a maximum size of 0.8 x 4 mm.
What Type Of Shredder Do I Need?
The type of shredder that will be best for you depends on where and how you will be using it.
Personal And Deskside Shredders
A personal or deskside shredder is a good choice for low-volume sporadic use, particularly at home but also by up to two people in an office. They may include a small integral waste container or may clip/balance on the edge of a wastepaper bin. They will typically have a maximum shredding capacity of 10 sheets at a time.
In a shared workplace such as a small office, an office shredder is a better choice as they can generally shred up to 30 sheets at a time.
Heavy-Duty Departmental Shredders
These are designed to cope with the higher, more frequent workload of a busy office and are more likely to be seen in banks and financial institutions, legal and accountancy practices where paper-based documents still play a significant role.Capable of shredding up to 40 sheets at a time, they are also more likely to have a higher security rating to comply with secure destruction of personal data and other sensitive information.
What Features Should I Look For On A Shredder?
Once you’ve established the size and security level you need, you may want to consider what additional features could be useful or essential.
A paper shredder can be extremely dangerous, so look for safety features. These include
- interlocks that will deactivate the shredder motor if it is partly disassembled for unjamming or repair, and while the collection bin is being emptied.
- Sensors that will deactivate the shredder when they detect the collection bin is full or if the mechanism is jammed.
- Overload cut-off switches will automatically switch off the shredder if the motor is under too much strain or at risk of overheating.
Some features incorporated into a shredder will ensure you get the maximum performance out of it.
Continuously Rated Motors
While most shredders will only run while a sensor on the paper infeed detects paper, heavy usage can cause the motor to overheat. This will result in a significantly reduced lifetime for the shredder and frequent stoppages while the motor cools down after an overload. For this reason, some shredder manuals advise only operating the shredder for a limited time and then allowing it to cool off for a few minutes before resuming operation.A continuously rated motor is engineered to run constantly without the cooling periods required by other shredders.
The blades of a shredder need regular lubrication to keep them in prime condition, but it can easily become one of those tasks that everyone is responsible for and nobody does.A shredder with an automatic oiler will save you from having to remember to oil the blades regularly and keep it running smoothly.
It’s surprising how noisy an office shredder can be, given that it’s designed to operate in an environment where people are trying to get on with work, hold telephone conversations and so on.Particularly if you anticipate the shredder will be in frequent or constant use, check its decibel rating. As a guideline, 70dB is regarded as acceptable for general office work but if your work is characteristically highly complex or demands creative thinking, decision-making, solving problems and effectively communicating, you should be looking for a lower level of 55dB.
Even if you are placing the shredder in a fixed location, it can be very heavy and awkward to move, particularly if the collection bin is full. If the shredder is to be placed under a desk or between filing cabinets, castors will allow access for maintenance and repairs.
Or Should I Use A Shredding Service?
If you have had poor past experiences with shredding machines or can’t find one that suits your needs, there is an alternative and its benefits may surprise you – SECURALL from Avena Group.This innovative solution puts an end to the hassle of in-house shredding:
- Queues at the shredder or employees tied up with shredding when they could be better employed.
- Frequent jams, breakdowns and expensive engineer callouts.
- The security risks of having confidential documents left about the office waiting to be shredded.
- No certification to prove your confidential waste destruction procedures satisfy GDPR.
Avena Group offers professional and fully accredited secure data destruction services to many sectors including healthcare, financial, legal and educational, and SECURALL is unique to them.When documents are no longer required, they are simply placed in a secure console. This is designed to blend unobtrusively into the modern office environment but offers high levels of document security.Once the documents are in the console the design of the inlet prevents them from being retrieved by unauthorised persons. Only a company-designated keyholder or one of Avena’s BS7858
security-vetted customer service representatives (CSR) can unlock the console.When the console needs emptying, a unique QR code on the console is scanned with the SECURALL®
phone app, which notifies Avena and the company’s assigned contact that a collection is required.When they visit your premises Avena’s CSR will know the exact location of every console to be emptied – this is particularly useful for larger organisations who use several consoles – and will transfer the contents directly to one of Avena’s specially adapted fleet of vans. With no signwriting to indicate the secure nature of their contents, these are protected with CCTV cameras and real-time satellite tracking.On arrival at the Avena destruction facility, the documents are destroyed in a high-capacity, heavy-duty industrial shredder that will reduce them to DIN 5 standards (see above for an explanation if you skipped this to the end). You will then be issued a formal certificate of destruction to keep on file in preparation for any GDPR audit that might be requested.
The Bottom Line
So, which is the best office shredder you can buy in the UK? As you have probably guessed by now we don’t sell shredders, nor are we sponsored by office shredder manufacturers or resellers. The best shredder for you depends on many factors, which we have tried to cover fully and impartially in this article.If this has helped you decide which office shredder you need, congratulations.But if you are still undecided, or if SECURALL®
is an option you haven’t previously considered, why don’t you give us a call on 08455 219892
, or use our online contact form
for a member of our support team to contact you within 24 hours.