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Best Cheap Paper Shredders
Cheap Paper Shredders Buying Guide
Identity theft has made paper shredders an essential component of modern life, for individuals and organizations alike. Given the armada of choices, which shredder should frugal consumers select?
The most popular brands are Fellowes, Aurora, and several store brands, such as Staples.
Budget Paper Shredders Shredding Capacity.How much paper can a shredder shred? Shredding capacity is perhaps the most important feature to consider and the most misleading fact advertised by paper shredder manufacturers. The number of pieces of paper that can be shredded at any one time ranges from five to 15 on units designed for home or small office use. Unfortunately, research shows that shredders rarely live up to their stated standards. Even the Fellowes Powershred P57-C (starting at $55), which is billed as accepting up to eight sheets at a time, comfortably handles only half of that amount, according to paper shredder reviews by users on Amazon. Bear in mind that shredders intended for the home have less shredding capacity than shredders designed for heavy-duty office use and may need a longer "cool down" period between bouts of shredding.
Paper isn't the only thing shredders can shred; they also do a number on entire envelopes of junk mail, staples, paper clips, CDs, and DVDs. If you plan to shred any of these items, make sure to choose a shredder than can accommodate such objects, like the Staples M5 Mailmate (starting at $70), Fellowes Powershred P-57, and Staples 30-Sheet Strip Cut Shredder (starting at $120). Some shredders, such as the Aleratec 240130 (starting at $83), are dedicated to shredding CDs and DVDs. One cheap paper shredders review by a user on Amazon says the Aleratec 240130 can destroy 50 CDs in just two minutes but shredding paper is a bit of a chore because you have to fold it in half to fit into the shredding slot.
Cheap Paper Shredders Security.The primary motivation for shredding is, of course, preventing sensitive data from falling into the wrong hands. That means you want a shred cut that is difficult, if not impossible, to piece together. In other words, the finer the shred, the more secure the shredder. The crudest form of shred cut is the strip (lengthwise or widthwise, depending how you load the paper) found on models like the Aurora AS810SD 8-Sheet Strip Cut Paper/CD/Credit Card Shredder (starting at $30) or the Techko SH2106PV (starting at $33). Although useful for shredding junk mail and the like, or for making your own packing material, strip cut shredders are not recommended for sensitive material; a dedicated identity thief can reassemble strip shreds fairly easily.
A more secure shred is the crosscut or confetti cut, which cuts paper vertically and horizontally into tiny strips. Models like the Staples M5 Mailmate, the Aurora AS890C (starting at $40), and the Fellowes Powershred P-57 make confetti. Commenting on the Staples site, one user of the Staples SPL-TXC15A 15-Sheet Cross Cut shredder likes the extra security that comes with small pieces that scatter easily. Although the Aurora AS890C is technically a crosscut, paper shredder reviews on Amazon point out it produces shreds that more closely resemble strip cuts.
Moving up the security ladder, and beyond the Cheapism price range, gets us to the diamond, or microcut, which turns documents into small diamond shapes. Not a feature on budget shredders, microcut is reserved for high-end shredders costing upwards of $300, like the Fellowes Powershred MS-450 and the $1800 Destroyit 2360 Super Micro-Cut.
Most individual users will be satisfied with the security provided by confetti shredders, and the undemanding will find the strip cut better than the alternative. Incidentally, the smaller the shred, the more the bin, or basket, can hold before you have to empty it.
Discount Paper Shredders Shredding Slot.Most cheap shredders have similarly-sized "throats" -- approximately 8.5 inches -- that gobble up the material to be shredded. Larger capacity shredders, such as the Staples 30-Sheet Strip Cut, may have a 9-inch throat. For letter- and legal-sized documents, a throat narrower than 9 inches can be tight and require careful attention when inserting the papers; this can be a frustrating exercise, as this user of the Aurora AS890C, with its 8.7-inch throat, notes in a cheap shredder review on Amazon. On the Staples site, users likewise report the 8-inch throat of the Staples SPL-TXC15A is too narrow for legal-sized paper; ditto for the Staples MailMate, according to paper shredder review posts on Reviewstream.com. The Aurora AS420C (starting at $30) is an even smaller desktop model and has a 4.5-inch shredding slot; obviously, all papers must be folded prior to shredding.
Bargain Paper Shredders Buttons.Most shredders must be switched on and then, when material is fed into the throat, they start shredding automatically. In addition, there's usually a reverse button that you can push in when pesky shreds of stuff get caught in the shredding mechanism; this button reverses the motor and sends pieces of paper and plastic outwards.
Chaep Paper Shredders Bin Capacity.As with any waste receptacle, the larger the bin, the less frequently you need to empty it. And depending on the shredder, this can be a more or less messy task. That said, bin sizes for cheap paper shredders generally range from 1.5 gallons to 8 gallons. The Staples 15-Sheet Cross Cut has a holding capacity of 6.9 gallons while the Staples M5 Mailmate has a relatively small 1.6 gallon bin, a feature that irks many user shredder reviewers on Staples.com.
Inexpensive Paper Shredders Safety.Shredders produced by Fellowes feature what the company calls "SafeSense Technology." Effectively, this means that when a living body part, be it a finger or a cat's tail, gets too close to the shredder throat, the shredder automatically shuts off until the body part is moved away. Fellowes shredders are the only models with this technology. Other brands have their own safety mechanisms, albeit not sensor-based. Staples, for example, features Blade Guard, a mechanical feature that ensures none of the sharp teeth of the shredder are exposed.
Cheap Paper Shredders Run Time.Shredders will do their thing for only a limited amount of time before the motor shuts down. According to the manufacturer, the Staples Mailmate and Staples 15-sheet Crosscut, for example, run for eight minutes before needing 80 minutes of down time. Fellowes' own product information notes that shredders are designed to run for 10 minutes on and 12 minutes off, although one user review of budget paper shredders on Associated Content says the Fellowes heats up after a while and then needs 30 minutes to cool down. If you're looking for a workhorse, the Royal 85X 10 Sheet Cross Cut (starting at $56) might fit the bill; a user commenting on Buzzillions claims it can shred for up to an hour at a time.
Best Cheap Paper Shredders
Fellowes Powershred P-57
An effective, reliable confetti-cut shredder, the Fellowes P-57 is best for moderate shredding needs; users like the sensor that detects fingers getting too close and don't seem to mind its struggles when shredding the advertised maximum of eight sheets.
Good Cheap Paper Shredders
Staples M5 Mailmate
A confetti-cut shredder that destroys up to five sheets at a time, with a relatively small bin that is easy to empty thank to its compact, square shape and handle; user reports are mixed on this shredder's reliability.
An entry-level Aurora shredder, this cross-cut model pales in comparison to its Fellowes equivalent; users say it can handle a mere two to three sheets at once and it suffers from inferior warranty and reliability.
Royal 85MX 10 Sheet Cross Cut Review
Staples M5 Mailmate Review
Staples 15-Sheet SPL-TXC15A Review
Fellowes Powershred P-57 Review
Aurora AS420C Review
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