Choosing a Paper Shredder
Identity theft is on everybody's minds these days and one of the best ways to protect yourself from being a victim of this crime is by using a paper shredder. These are all important questions, so read on to find out what type of shredder will be the best choice for you.
1.) What will you be shredding and where?
The first thing you should know about your paper shredding future is this: what exactly will you be shredding? And where? If you're an individual who wants to get rid of junk mail and personal papers, a low-capacity strip-cut shredder should be your first choice. (Continue reading to find out what "strip-cut" means.) But if you're a business owner and your company routinely handles lots of very sensitive information, you'll need to purchase a shredder that not only can handle large amounts of paper, but will also provide a certain amount of security.
2.) How much security do you need?
Speaking of security, the level of security that a paper shredder offers is measured on a scale of 1-6. The six security levels are based on something called the Deutsche Industrial Norm (DIN) scale, which ranges from DIN 1 (lowest security) to DIN 6 (high security). (Level Six technically isn't a part of the scale, but it's often referred to as such anyway.) The lower the security number, the bigger the scraps of paper will be once your document goes through the shredder. If you're dealing with highly classified information, you'll want a machine with a higher security level so that your document is turned into particles and not strips. This is especially true when dealing with health information, employee records, and credit information. Federal laws such as Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) simply require that you take reasonable precautions in destroying sensitive customer or patient information. The level of security that you choose in doing so is really up to you.
When considering security it is also important to note that there are two kinds of paper shredders: strip- and cross-cut. Strip-cut shredders cut a sheet of paper into spaghetti-like strips. One disadvantage of strip-cut machines is that they offer a lower level of security (up to Level Three) and the strips are bulky, so the waste takes up a lot of room. Cross-cut shredders offer much better security (all the way up to Level Six) and the waste isn't as bulky. (Think Confetti.) A cross-cut shredder is definitely the way to go if you need a machine with a high security rating. However, cross-cut shredders are more expensive and tend to be slower than strip cut shredding machines.
3.) Other factors to consider.
Depending on your needs, you'll want to take other features into consideration when you buy your paper shredder. One thing to think about is how safe you feel using the machine. Does it have adequate safety features, like a reverse button and throat guard? What else is important to you? If you're going to be shredding large pieces of paper, you'll want a shredder that has a throat longer than 9". Some machines have sensors that can detect when paper has entered the machine, which is a convenient feature to have. Other things to think about are waste bin capacity, if the unit has wheels for easy transport, and how often you'll need to oil the machine. (Oiling is an essential part of paper shredder maintenance.) And, of course, price will undoubtedly be a factor.
Now you know what to think about when buying a paper shredder. Be sure to take all your needs into consideration, especially the level of security you need. Having a shredder can give you piece of mind, so get one today.
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