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Best Paper Shredder of 2020

Wednesday August 19, 2020
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We thoroughly researched over 50 paper shredders before buying the 10 best available in 2020. 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 10 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 10
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Best Overall Shredder


AmazonBasics 24-Sheet Cross-Cut


Editors' Choice Award
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

$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
Fast
Powerful
Relatively quiet
Expensive
Large

For those that shred a lot of paper at home or 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 will decisively and completely shred 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.

Though less expensive than many other comparable machines, the AmazonBasics 24-Sheet is at the upper end of the market, so it's only a worthwhile purchase for those that need to shred multiple documents often. Similarly, it's a relatively large device that takes up quite a bit of real estate. However, it'd be 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


Editors' Choice Award
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

$269.98
(15% 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
Expensive
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, though your cubicle mates will undoubtedly notice it, they won't be requesting to switch desks.

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

Read review: Fellowes Powershred 99Ci

Best Bang for the Buck


AmazonBasics 6-Sheet Micro-Cut


Best Buy Award
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  • 4
  • 5

$51.67
at Amazon
See It

51
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Shredding Quality 6
  • Speed 4
  • Ease of Use 6
  • Noise 4
Security Level: Micro-Cut | Sheets per Minute: 42
High security
Inexpensive
Slow and loud
Can't shred CDs

Offering high-level security at a relatively low price, the AmazonBasics 6-Sheet Micro-Cut is an excellent choice for those who want the convenience of a shred-at-home option, but don't need an expensive, high-capacity machine. This model reliably turned 6-sheet stacks of paper into indecipherable micro shreds during our testing, which we found to be an impressive feat at this price point. It also made quick work of credit cards.

The most obvious downsides of this machine are its speed (maxing out with one of our slowest marks at 42 sheets/minute) and its noise (creating a high-pitched squeal when in use). However, unless you shred dozens of pages every day, neither of these things are of much consequence. One thing worth noting is that it doesn't shred CDs. However, this device does strong work at a lightweight price.

Read review: AmazonBasics 6-Sheet Micro-Cut

Best for High-Security Shredding


Bonsaii DocShred C156-C Micro-Cut


Top Pick Award
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

$54.99
(31% off)
at Amazon
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 want 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 higher security of micro-cut in a simple and efficient package.

Micro-cut blades are typically associated with a reduction in speed, and the Bonsaii DocShred C156-C Micro-Cut is no exception. FIt 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 emits quite a shrill and grating noise while shredding, making it less ideal for long 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


Top Pick Award
  • 1
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  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

$29.88
(15% 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 few sensitive pages that end up on your desk. This tiny, no-frills paper shredder is powerful enough to take on a few pages or even a credit card, yet it is small enough to inconspicuously live on a shelf or corner of your desk until you need to pull it out. The noise it makes is also surprisingly innocuous and doesn't have nearly the same 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, as heavy use is going to stress the tiny motor. However, this could be the perfect solution if you only need to shred a few pages per week without sacrificing too much office real estate.



Why You Should Trust Us


Max Mutter and Steven Tata have been leading TechGearLab's office product testing since 2016. They have gotten their hands on well over 100 home office products, from printers to Chromebooks, 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 what works and how office needs can be met best by the products they are testing. They've also looked at every office product they've tested through the lens of a home user and are thus quite familiar with that landscape.

In completing this review, we shredded over 5000 pages of recycled documents ranging from standard 8" x 11" sheets to stuffed junk-mail envelopes to 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 such important shredder-related questions: "how much more secure is micro-cut than cross-cut?" and, "when is it worth buying a shredding service?" In the end, we found 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



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 still exists on physical sheets of paper that can be stolen in the old fashioned way. If you have any documents that could help a potential identity thief, getting a good paper shredder is a worthwhile investment.

Related: Buying Advice for Paper Shredders


Value


Most people need a shredder relatively infrequently for the odd credit card statement or tax document. In that case, the AmazonBasics 6-Sheet Micro-Cut offers excellent value, providing top-notch security and reliable performance for small to medium 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 reasonable 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 retain usable information if you're unlucky (right). There is almost no chance of a micro-cut model (left) retaining usable information.
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.

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, while micro-cut level security 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 or consideration. 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, efficiently tackling its advertised capacity of 18-sheets and gobbling up everything from CDs to large junk mail envelopes. The only mark against it is that it has cross-cut blades rather than micro-cut. The AmazonBasics 24-Sheet was similarly powerful, able to tear through a stack of 26 sheets at a clip.


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 issue. The only reason it didn't earn a higher score is that we ran into 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, the Bonsaii DocShred C156-C Micro-Cut and its micro-cut blades provide 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, 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 is a clear difference between the micro-cut and cross-cut models.
The resulting paper shreds from all of the models we tested. There is a clear difference between the micro-cut and cross-cut models.

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 down the stretch, but still effectively shredded 12 sheets at a time and had no issues with junk mail envelopes and credit cards. The Fellowes Powershred 79Cidisplayed a similar level of power 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 may be disappointing if you're looking for a truly high-capacity model.

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.
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.

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 is the case with the Fellowes Powershred 60Cs. Though 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 it came up against 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, with a test maximum of 10 sheets.

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.
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.

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 want to consider speed. To test this, we prepped many stacks of paper that matched each model's highest page capacity and fed as many 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 often need to shred large piles of documents.

Falling just behind its sibling, the Powershred 79Ci was abe 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).

Coming in a distant third to the Powershred models were a few others that all scored 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.


Earning 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 scorers, however, were well off the 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.

Ease of Use


While paper shredders are generally simple machines that don't present too many difficulties beyond the occasional jam, 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 associated with trying to empty an overstuffed bin. Safety features like finger guards to prevent children or pets from getting near the blades can offer 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 appreciate 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 full 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 any sort of fill indicator, requiring you to open the draw 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.

Most models fell into the midrange in our ease of use testing, with six different models earning a score of 6 out of 10. These models were neither annoying to use, nor did they offer anything that made them feel exceptionally user-friendly. The AmazonBasics 12-Sheet Cross-Cut has almost an identical interface to its smaller sibling, but its bin is slightly bigger (4.8 gallons), and includes a CD shredding slot. The Fellowes Powershred 60Cs has the same safety sensor as the 79Ci and a slightly dumbed-down version of its interface. It also has a shredding unit that sits on top of a 6-gallon bin. The shredding unit is quite heavy and requires two hands to move around. The Powershred 99Ci has the same safety sensor and a substantial 9-gallon pullout bin. However, its sheer size makes it a bit difficult to move around. The AmazonBasics 24-Sheet has a nice interface and is easy to empty, but it is very large and takes up a lot of space.

Continuing down the list of models that scored a 6 in our ease of use testing, the Bonsaii EverShred C169-B has simple controls and a drawer-style bin that is easy to remove. However, at 4.5 gallons, the bin is relatively small and has only a small window at the front as a fill indicator. The final model to score a 6 in our testing was the Bonsaii DocShred C156-C Micro-Cut. It has a balance on top of the shredding unit that must be removed to empty the 5.5-gallon bin, but it includes a built-in handle that makes this easy to do with one hand. It also includes a window on the front of the bin to gauge how full it is. A separate shredding slot is used just for CDs, which saves the main blades if you shred a lot of CDs.

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.
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.

Most of the models we tested scored between 6 and 8 in our ease of use testing, meaning none of them were particularly annoying or unpleasant. The main differentiating factors for ease of use were user interface, ease of emptying, and safety features.

Noise


Let's get this out of the way: no shredder is quiet. Lots of tiny blades tearing through paper with the help of a whirring motor is inevitably going to create a cacophony that no one wants to hear. However, some models do 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 grating on the ears. The Fellowes Powershred 79Ci was closest to the top scores with a 7 out of 10. It keeps the noise reasonably low, but with some 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 the nerves after a while. The Bonsaii EverShred C169-B was very similar, with a lower frequency interspersed with more frazzling crinkling noises.


All of the models at the bottom of the noise testing barrel ended up there because of grating, high pitched frequencies. The AmazonBasics 12-Sheet Cross-Cut's motor produced almost identically grating sounds, and thus received the same score. However, these models weren't quite as bad as the two bottom scorers. The Fellowes Powershred 60Cs and the Bonsaii DocShred C156-C Micro-Cut scored a 3 in the noise metric. Both had similar, high pitched shrieks that would probably require earplugs or some serious Zen meditation for any shred sessions lasting more than a few minutes.

Conclusion


Different people will naturally require different levels of security and varying amounts of capacity in 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