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Best Paper Shredder of 2021

Credit: Jenna Ammerman
By Max Mutter and Steven Tata  ⋅  Feb 16, 2021
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We thoroughly researched over 50 paper shredders before buying the 11 best available today. In our testing we tore through thousands of (recycled) pages to evaluate both the power and speed of each model. We also pushed these machines and their blades to the limit with tougher items like CDs, credit cards, and junk envelopes. Whether you end up with mountains of documents that need to be shredded into the smallest bits possible or just want to go that extra step to protect your privacy, this review can help you find the best paper shredder that fits your needs and budget.

Top 11 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 11
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Awards Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award    
Price $318 List
$259.99 at Amazon
$186 List
$176.60 at Amazon
$240 List
$194.98 at Amazon
$200 List
$172.16 at Amazon
$200 List
Overall Score Sort Icon
85
82
75
70
65
Star Rating
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Pros Fast, powerful, relatively quietFast, powerful, relatively quietIncredibly fast, high capacityFast, user friendlyLarge bin, above average performance
Cons Expensive, largeVery largeExpensiveExpensiveMore expensive than some higher performing models
Bottom Line A fantastic option for those that shred hundreds of pages per dayA great and fast model, but if you're looking for speed there are better options in the same price rangeIf your shredding jobs reach triple digit page numbers, this machine will make your life a lot easierGood all-around performer, but not worth the high priceShreds well but is fairly slow for a high capacity model
Rating Categories Fellowes... Basics 24-Sheet... Fellowes... Fellowes... Royal HD1400MX
Shredding Quality (40%)
8
8
6
6
7
Speed (35%)
10
9
9
8
6
Ease Of Use (15%)
6
6
8
8
7
Noise (10%)
9
9
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Specs Fellowes... Basics 24-Sheet... Fellowes... Fellowes... Royal HD1400MX
Bin Capacity 9 gallons 7 gallons 6 gallons 6.1 gallons 6.2 gallons
Advertised Sheet Capacity 18 24 16 12 14
Measured Sheet Capacity 18 26 14 12 14
Type Cross-Cut Cross-Cut Cross-Cut Cross-Cut Cross-Cut
Dimensions 17.3 x 11.4 x 25.2 11.9" x 16.3" x 26.2" 21.3" x 15.4" x 10.4" 19.4" x 15.5" x 10.37 13.5"x 17.2" x 20.9"
Weight 36.38 36.5 lb 28.22 19 lb 25
Shred Size 5/32" x 1-1/2" 7/32" x 1 27/32" 5/32" x 1-1/2" 5/32" x 1-1/2" 5/32" x 1 1/2"
Warranty 2 Year Machine / Lifetime Cutter 1 Year Limited 2 Year Machine / Lifetime Cutter 2 Year Machine / Lifetime Cutter 1 Year
Maximum Sheets per Minute 185 114 140 109 60

Best Overall Shredder


AmazonBasics 24-Sheet Cross-Cut


AmazonBasics 24-Sheet Cross-Cut
Editors' Choice Award
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$176.60
(5% off)
at Amazon
See It

82
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Shredding Quality 8
  • Speed 9
  • Ease of Use 6
  • Noise 9
Security Level: Cross-Cut | Sheets per Minute: 114
Speedy
Powerful
Relatively quiet
Expensive
Large

For those that shred a lot of paper at home or in a small office, we think the AmazonBasics 24-Sheet Micro-Cut offers everything you need and then some. The main selling point is its raw power. In our tests, it bested its 24-sheet claim, chewing its way through 26 pages with ease. It handles thick junk mail envelopes, credit cards, and CDs, and it decisively and completely shreds every last bit. While this isn't the fastest model that we tested, it's close to it, charging through 114 sheets per minute in our speed tests. You will be able to dispose of even the longest documents with expediency. And it does all of this while costing a bit less than most of the other high-capacity models on the market.

The AmazonBasics 24-Sheet is less expensive than many other comparable machines, but it's at the upper end of the market, so it's only a worthwhile purchase for those that need to shred documents often. Similarly, it's a relatively large device that takes up quite a bit of real estate. However, it's hard to do better than the AmazonBasics 24-Sheet for those who shred 100s of pages a week.

Read review: AmazonBasics 24-Sheet Cross-Cut

Best for High Volume Shredding


Fellowes Powershred 99Ci


Fellowes Powershred 99Ci
Editors' Choice Award
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$259.99
(18% off)
at Amazon
See It

85
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Shredding Quality 8
  • Speed 10
  • Ease of Use 6
  • Noise 9
Security Level: Cross-Cut | Sheets per Minute: 185
Fast
Powerful
Relatively quiet
Pricey
Large

If you're currently staring at boxes of files that need to be shredded, the Fellowes PowerShred 99Ci can make fast work of them. In our testing, it clocked a speed of 180 pages per minute. It also readily gobbled up everything we threw at it, from thick envelopes to CDs and credit cards. Despite that power, the PowerShred was one of the quietest models we tested. Your cubicle mates will undoubtedly notice it, but they won't be requesting to switch desks.

The PowerShred is a cross-cut model which means that it produces slightly larger shreds than micro-cut blades. However, cross-cuts still offer a very high level of security, and disposing of lots of shreds at once makes it even more unlikely that the information could be pieced back together. The biggest strike against the PowerShred is its price. Generally listed at more than what most models cost, it is a sizeable investment. However, the time savings will be well worth the extra cost if you frequently shred 100+ page documents.

Read review: Fellowes Powershred 99Ci

Best Bang for the Buck


AmazonBasics 8-Sheet Cross-Cut


AmazonBasics 8-Sheet Cross-Cut
Best Buy Award
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$40.99
at Amazon
See It

64
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Shredding Quality 6
  • Speed 8
  • Ease of Use 6
  • Noise 3
Security Level: Cross-Cut | Sheets per Minute: 96
Inexpensive
Reliable
Quite fast
Very loud

In our opinion, the AmazonBasics 8-Sheet Cross-Cut strikes a fantastic balance between price, performance, and power. It is affordable enough that it shouldn't eat too far into your home office budget and is small enough that it can be hidden away under a desk. Despite the relatively small stature, it is still powerful and fast enough to perform during those periods around tax time when you suddenly have stacks of documents to properly dispose of. In our tests, it posted a maximum speed of 96 sheets per minute and easily chewed through stuffed junk mail envelopes and even credit cards — more than enough performance for most home offices.

The biggest downside to the AmazonBasics 8-Sheet Cross-Cut is the noise it creates. We don't expect your house or office mates will appreciate its relatively shrill whine, which can get annoying fast. Additionally, the bin isn't the easiest to empty. However, if this machine is only relied on for the occasional home office use it's designed for, these issues aren't deal-breakers. Unless you regularly shred dozens of pages at a time, the AmazonBasics 8-Sheet Cross-Cut can likely provide all you need at an enticingly low price.

Read review: AmazonBasics 8-Sheet Cross-Cut

Best for High-Security Shredding


Bonsaii DocShred C156-C Micro-Cut


Bonsaii DocShred C156-C Micro-Cut
Top Pick Award
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$80
List Price
See It

54
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Shredding Quality 7
  • Speed 4
  • Ease of Use 6
  • Noise 3
Security Level: Micro-Cut | Sheets per Minute: 40
High-security micro-cut blades
Relatively inexpensive
Slower than comparable cross-cut models
Loud and grating

While cross-cut blades are sufficient for most shredding jobs, the resulting paper shreds can technically be put back together (this would take hours of labor, but it is possible. If you want the added peace of mind of knowing that your documents have been rendered indecipherable, you need a micro-cut model. In our opinion, the Bonsaii DocShred C156-C Micro-Cut is one of the best on the market. For a relatively low price, it offers the added security of micro-cut blades in a simple and efficient package.

Micro-cut blades are typically associated with lower speeds, and the Bonsaii DocShred C156-C Micro-Cut is no exception. It may be a poor choice for those that shred hundreds of pages at a go, as it's slower than comparable cross-cut models. It also generates a shrill and grating noise while shredding, making it less ideal for long or frequent shredding sessions. However, it provides exceptional security at a great price for small to moderate batches of documents.

Read review: Bonsaii DocShred C156-C Micro-Cut

Best Desktop Style Model


Aurora AS420C Desktop


Aurora AS420C Desktop
Top Pick Award
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$28.34
(19% off)
at Amazon
See It

41
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Shredding Quality 4
  • Speed 2
  • Ease of Use 7
  • Noise 7
Security Level: Cross-Cut | Sheets per Minute: 24
Small and compact
Inexpensive
Slow
Not particularly powerful

The Aurora AS420C Desktop is an excellent choice if you've managed to keep your paper documents to the bare minimum but still want a convenient way to dispose of the occasional sensitive page that ends up on your desk. This tiny, no-frills paper shredder is powerful enough to chew through a few pages or even a credit card, yet it is small enough to inconspicuously live on a shelf or the corner of your desk until you need to pull it out. The noise it makes is also surprisingly innocuous and doesn't have the usual whine we expect from smaller machines.

This model clearly isn't meant for heavy use. Long documents or regular shredding would certainly warrant a larger unit because heavy use would likely stress this machine's tiny motor. However, the AS420C could be the perfect solution if you only need to shred a few pages per week and don't want to sacrifice too much office real estate.

Read review: Aurora AS420C Desktop


Credit: Kat Elliott

Why You Should Trust Us


Max Mutter and Steven Tata have been leading TechGearLab's office product testing since 2016. So far, they've gotten their hands on well over 100 home office products, from printers to Chromebooks and office chairs to shredders. The unique experience of testing small office products while working in a small office grants Max and Steven a clear perspective on which products really work and the best way to meet the myriad needs of a small office. They've also considered every office product they've tested through the lens of a home user and are thus quite familiar with that landscape.

While completing this review, we shredded over 5000 pages of recycled documents ranging from standard 8" x 11" sheets to stuffed junk-mail envelopes and credit cards. In doing so, we evaluated each model's shredding quality and speed, the ease of emptying the wastebasket, and the relative annoyingness of the shrieks associated with documents meeting their doom. We also thoroughly researched and evaluated important shredder-related questions, such as "how much more secure is micro-cut than cross-cut?" and "when is it worth upgrading to a shredding service?" In the end, we identified what we believe to be the best shredder for every application, from home users that only shred a few pages a month to offices that need to dispose of hundreds of sensitive pages at a time, and everything in between.

Related: How We Tested Paper Shredders


Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Analysis and Test Results


With all of the new and sophisticated ways that our personal information can be compromised online, it is easy to forget that information also exists on physical sheets of paper that can still be stolen the old-fashioned way. If you have any physical documents that could tempt an identity thief, getting a good paper shredder is a worthwhile investment.

Related: Buying Advice for Paper Shredders


Value


Most people need a shredder infrequently, just for the odd credit card statement or tax document. In that case, the AmazonBasics 8-Sheet Cross-Cut offers excellent value, providing top-notch security and reliable performance for small to medium-sized tasks at a low price. If your shredding jobs are larger or more frequent, the AmazonBasics 24-Sheet Cross-Cut adds extra capacity and power for a heftier but comparably affordable price. If you are looking for a fast device, the Fellowes Powershred 99Ci can save you quite a bit of time if you already have stacks of documents waiting to be obliterated, though it does come at a price premium.

While cross-cut models offer a high level of security, they can...
While cross-cut models offer a high level of security, they can retain usable information if you're unlucky (right). There is almost no chance of a micro-cut model (left) retaining usable information.
Credit: Steven Tata

Shredding Quality


Shredding quality boils down to 3 things: security, reliability, and convenience. Security relates to the size of the shreds produced, generally either cross-cut or micro-cut. Cross-cut level security makes reconstructing documents nearly impossible and offers enough protection for most people. Micro-cut security, in contrast, makes documents virtually impossible to decipher. Reliability refers to a shredder's ability to shred stacks of paper at its advertised capacity consistently. For example, if a 10-sheet model isn't reliable enough to continuously shred stacks of 10 pages, you can easily end up with readable chunks of documents in your waste bin. Convenience refers to the ability to shred odd items, like credit cards and junk mail envelopes, without any extra fuss. We shredded hundreds of items on all of our shredders and meticulously evaluated the resulting confetti to assess overall shredding quality.


The Fellowes Powershred 99Ci earned an 8 out of 10 in our shredding quality testing. It was by far the most powerful model that we tested and efficiently tackled its advertised capacity of 18-sheets while gobbling up everything from CDs to large junk mail envelopes. The only mark against it is because it utilizes cross-cut blades rather than micro-cut. The AmazonBasics 24-Sheet was similarly powerful and able to tear through a stack of 26 sheets at a clip.

Credit: Jenna Ammerman

The Royal HD1400MX earned an above-average 7 out of 10 in our shredding metric. It demonstrated solid power in our shredding tests, tearing through thick junk mail envelopes with absolutely no issues. The only reason it didn't earn a higher score is that we encountered one instance where it jammed when shredding a stack of its advertised capacity of 14 sheets of paper.

Also earning a 7 out of 10, was the Bonsaii DocShred C156-C Micro-Cut. Its micro-cut blades offer better security than cross-cut models. However, it is less powerful than comparable cross-cutters, only shredding a maximum of 8 sheets at a time and struggling a bit when it comes to thicker junk mail envelopes. It has a separate slot and set of blades just for shredding CDs, cutting them into 3 pieces. Overall, we think it's a great choice if you're in search of higher security.

The resulting paper shreds from all of the models we tested. There...
The resulting paper shreds from all of the models we tested. There is a clear difference between the micro-cut and cross-cut models.
Credit: Steven Tata

The AmazonBasics 8-Sheet Cross-Cut delivered a solid but not exemplary performance in our shredding tests. It easily tore through a stack of its advertised 8 sheet capacity. We even got it up to 11 sheets before it started to sound unhappy. It also easily dispatched stuffed junk mail envelopes. The cross-cut security level is likely more than enough for most people, but certainly less secure than micro-cut. It can handle credit cards as well, but it's not rated for shredding CDs.

For those that need more than the basic 6-sheet model, but don't want to spend big for a large capacity machine, the AmazonBasics 12-Sheet Cross-Cut offers decent shredding prowess. In our testing, it occasionally groaned while in use, but still effectively shredded 12 sheets at a time and had no issues with junk mail envelopes or credit cards. The Fellowes Powershred 79Cidisplayed a similar power level in our testing, making quick work of CDs and thick envelopes. However, it jammed at its advertised capacity of 16 sheets of paper. It quickly ripped through when we decreased the stack to 14 sheets, but that discrepancy could be disappointing if you're looking for a truly high-capacity model.

If overloaded, paper will often make it through the shredding slot...
If overloaded, paper will often make it through the shredding slot without jamming, but will end up as easily readable shredded paper waffles. This is why accurately reported maximum shredding capacities are crucial.
Credit: Steven Tata

All of the models we tested were able to shred basic documents to their specified level of security. However, some struggled a bit when it came to thicker or sturdier items, like stuffed envelopes and credit cards. Such was the case with the Fellowes Powershred 60Cs. Although it was able to acceptably shred its advertised maximum capacity of 10 sheets into cross-cut bits, it struggled to get there. It also stopped in its tracks when challenged with thicker junk mail envelopes. The Bonsaii EverShred C169-B did display quite a bit of power in our test, tearing through even fully stuffed junk envelopes. However, we found it utterly incapable of shredding its advertised capacity of a 14-sheet stack of paper. Instead, it only managed an underwhelming 10 sheets.

Micro-cut models reduce credit cards illegible to bits, but we found...
Micro-cut models reduce credit cards illegible to bits, but we found it is possible to reconstruct a credit card that has gone through a cross-cut model.
Credit: Steven Tata

Speed


Most shredders can handle small jobs of 10 or fewer pages with expediency. Still, if your job or financial strategy routinely pushes your shredding tasks into triple-digit page numbers, you definitely need to consider speed. To test this, we prepped stacks of paper that matched each model's highest page capacity and fed as many stacks through each shredder as we could in a single minute.


The quickest of the models we tested was the Fellowes Powershred 99Ci. We were able to shred 180 pages into cross-cut confetti in a single minute with this machine. This astonishing speed makes it our top pick for those who regularly need to shred large piles of documents.

Falling just behind its sibling, the Powershred 79Ci was able to gobble 140 sheets in a minute. Just beware, it jams if you load it with its advertised capacity of 16 sheets, so you'll have to keep the stacks to 14 sheets or less if you're shedding lots of pages (as we did for our speed test).

Posting a maximum rate of 96 sheets per minute, the AmazonBasics...
Posting a maximum rate of 96 sheets per minute, the AmazonBasics 8-Sheet Cross-Cut is one of the faster models we've tested.
Credit: Laura Casner

The AmazonBasics 8-Sheet Cross-Cut was one of the fastest home office-oriented models we tested. We saw it shred a stack of 8 sheets of paper in just 5 seconds, meaning it shreds at a maximum rate of 96 pages per minute.

Coming in a distant third to the Powershred models were a few others that all earned a 7 out of 10. The AmazonBasics 12-Sheet Cross-Cut matched its micro-cut sibling's speed of 72 sheets per minute. Just behind these models was the Bonsaii EverShred C169-B, which tore through paper at 70 sheets per minute. The Fellowes Powershred 60Cs was quick, but not as quick as its big brother, logging a speed of 67 sheets per minute.


Scoring a 6 out of 10, the Royal 1400MX missed out on being in the group of high scorers with a slightly slower speed of 55 sheets per minute. The two bottom finishers, however, were well off that pace. The Bonsaii DocShred C156-C Micro-Cut scored a 4 out of 10 with a relatively slow speed of 44 sheets per minute. This is just slightly better than half the speed of most high scorers and is just a bit more than a quarter of the top scorer's speed. This sacrifice in speed is most likely due to the DocShred offering the advanced security of micro-cut paper at a low price. Finally, the Aurora AS420C Desktop tore through a measly 24 pages in a minute, to score a 2 out of 10.

Ease of Use


Paper shredders are generally simple machines that don't present too many difficulties beyond the occasional jam, but certain user-friendly features can make your experience a bit more streamlined. Most of these things have to do with the bin. Larger bins don't have to be emptied as often. The ability to slide a bin out without having to lift the shredding unit makes emptying more manageable, and clear indicators of when the bin is full can prevent the dreaded confetti avalanche that often occurs when trying to empty an overstuffed bin. Safety features like finger guards to prevent children or pets from getting near the blades can improve peace of mind. Most of these machines have very similar, intuitive interfaces, but some models are slightly better designed than others. After shredding thousands of pages for our testing (don't worry, we recycle), we carefully evaluated every one of these features.


Earning the top score of 8 out of 10, the Fellowes Powershred 79Ci was our favorite model to use throughout our testing. We appreciated its thoughtful features, such as a sensor that stops the blades if your finger gets too close and a plastic guard to keep shreds of stiffer items like CDs or credit cards from going astray. Possibly our favorite part of this model's user experience is the bin, which provides a clear fullness indicator, slides out from the front, and is the easiest to remove and empty of all the models we tested.

Scoring 7 out of 10 in this metric, the Royal HD1400MX presents a very similar interface and bin design to the Powershred 79Ci. However, it lacks a clear fill indicator, requiring you to open the drawer periodically to check if it needs to be emptied.

The woes of trying to empty an overloaded bin.
The woes of trying to empty an overloaded bin.
Credit: Steven Tata

After these top scorers, we had a slew of models that landed in the "average" range in terms of their user experiences. These models are easy to operate for the most part, but they create some small annoyances, like a bin that can be slightly awkward to empty or a fill indicator that isn't easy to read. We still have yet to encounter a shredder that is overly irritating to use, so a lower score in this metric should not be a deal-breaker. There are just some models that add extra touches to make the experience a bit more pleasant.

The AmazonBasics model &amp;#40;left&amp;#41; uses a simple, single switch...
The AmazonBasics model (left) uses a simple, single switch control. The Fellowes model (right) includes a number of different warning lights, a guard for shredded CDs, and an auto shutoff feature.
Credit: Katherine Elliott

Noise


Let's get this out of the way from the beginning: no shredder is quiet. Lots of tiny blades tearing through paper with the help of a whirring motor is inevitably going to create an unwelcome cacophony. However, some models manage to keep the noise to a less grating, lower-pitched hum rather than a nails-on-chalkboard style shriek. We recorded each model shredding both small batches and motor-stressing large loads, then listened to those recordings side-by-side to discover which models are least likely to anger your officemates.


As we said before, no shredder sounds pleasant, but the Powershred 99Ci comes close. Its low-pitched hum is noticeable but not grating, making it the least offensive of the bunch. The Fellowes Powershred 79Ci earned a 9 out of 10 in this metric. It had a relatively low-pitched, consistent hum that could almost fade into the background. Also with a 9 out of 10, the AmazonBasics 24-Sheet had a similarly low hum that wasn't too irritating on the ears. The Fellowes Powershred 79Ci was closest to the top scores with a 7 out of 10. It keeps the volume reasonably low, with a few higher-pitched crackling noises thrown in.

The Fellowes 73Ci earned a 6 out of 10 in this metric. It produced a low hum that is fairly innocuous but mixes in some staccato paper crinkly-type noises that can be a bit grating.

There were two models that scored a 5. The Royal HD1400MX had a more bearable low pitched tone, but with some very loud accents of crinkling that start to fray our nerves after a while. The Bonsaii EverShred C169-B was very similar, with a lower frequency interspersed with more frazzling crinkling noises.


We've tested a few models, including the AmazonBasics 8-Sheet Cross-Cut, the Bonsaii DocShred C156-C Micro-Cut, and the Fellowes Powershred 60Cs, that produce particularly jarring sounds. All three emit high-pitched shrieks that are quite irritating and borderline unbearable for long periods of time. We'd advise against using these in a crowded office, and maybe consider tossing your headphones on for good measure.

Conclusion


Different people and different offices will understandably require different levels of security and varying amounts of capacity from their shredders. We hope our testing results have narrowed the field and helped you find the perfect paper shredder for your needs and budget.

Max Mutter and Steven Tata