We thoroughly vetted more than 50 paper shredders before buying and testing 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're a lawyer that ends up with mountains of documents that need to be shredded to the smallest bits possible, or just get a bit of anxiety when you throw your credit card statement away each month, our testing results can help you find the best shredder that fits your needs and budget.
The Best Paper Shredders of 2020
Best Overall Shredder
AmazonBasics 24-Sheet Cross-Cut
For those that run a home or small office that shreds a lot of paper, 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 actually bested its titular claim of 24 sheets, gobbling up a stack of 26 sheets of paper with ease. This means you can throw pretty anything at it, including thick junk mail envelopes, credit cards, and CDs, and rest assured it will decisively and completely shred every last bit. While this isn't the fastest model we tested it's close, posting an impressive rate of 114 sheets per minute in our speed tests, meaning you'll be able to dispose of even the longest documents with ease and 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 likely costs more than many people plan to spend on a shredder, so it's only a worthwhile purchase for those that often need to shred multiple documents in a day. Similarly, it's a relatively large device, and thus only worth the real estate it occupies if you shred frequently. For those that shred 100's of pages a week, it'd be hard to do better than the AmazonBasics 24-Sheet.
Read review: AmazonBasics 24-Sheet Cross-Cut
Best Bang for the Buck
AmazonBasics 6-Sheet Micro-Cut
Offering high-level security at a relatively low price, the AmazonBasics 6-Sheet Micro-Cutis a great choice for those that want the convenience of a shred-at-home option, but don't need an expensive, high-capacity machine. In our testing, this machine reliably turned 6-sheet stacks of paper into indecipherable, micro-cut sized bits, quite an impressive feat at this price point. It also made quick work of credit cards, one item that we've found to really benefit from the additional security of micro-cut.
The most obvious downsides of this machine are its speed (it maxed out at 42 sheets/minute in our testing, one of the slowest marks) and its noise (it creates a fairly high-pitched squeal when in use). However, neither of these things are of much consequence unless you shred dozens of pages every day. A bigger knock against this machine, in our opinion, is its inability to shred CDs. If you're looking for an inexpensive micro-cut option that can handle these heartier items the Bonsaii DocShred C156-C is an excellent choice, but it has a habit of going in and out of stock at many online retailers.
Read review: AmazonBasics 6-Sheet Micro-Cut
Best Shredder for High Volume Shredding
Fellowes Powershred 99Ci
If you're currently staring at boxes of files that all need to be shredded, the Fellowes PowerShred 99Ci can make fast work of them. In our testing it clocked an incredible speed of 180 pages per minute (that means you can shred every page of War and Peace in under 7 minutes, we calculated it). 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 certainly notice it, but they likely won't want to strangle you).
Obviously the cross-cut blades of the PowerShred produce 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 any opportunistic thieves will be able to piece and information back together. The biggest strike against the PowerShred is its price. Listing for nearly double what most models cost, it is quite an investment. If you're consistently shredding 100+ page documents, however, the time savings will be well worth the extra cost.
Read review: Fellowes Powershred 99Ci
Best Desktop Style Model
Aurora AS420C Desktop
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, the Aurora AS420C Desktop is a great choice. This tiny, no frills shredder is powerful enough to shred a few pages or even a credit card, yet is small enough that it can inconspicuously live on a shelf or corner of your desk until it is needed. The noise it makes is also surprisingly innocuous and lacks that over the top, high-pitched whine you might expect from a smaller machine.
This machine clearly isn't meant for heavy use. Long documents or frequent shredding would certainly warrant a larger unit, as heavy use is going to stress the tiny motor in this machine. But if you don't want to sacrifice too much office real estate to a shredder and only need to shred a few pages a week, this could be the perfect solution.
Why You Should Trust Us
Max Mutter and Steven Tata have been leading TechGearLab's office product testing since 2016. That has put their hands on well over 100 small and home office related products, from printers and shredders to Chromebooks and office chairs, not to mention shredders. The unique experience of testing small office products while working in a small office grants Max and Steven a clear perspective of what most offices need, and how those needs can best be met. They've also looked at every office product they've tested through the lens of a home user, and thus are quite familiar with that landscape as well.
In completing this review we shredded over 5000 pages of documents (don't' worry, all were recycled) 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 thouroughly researched and evaluated such important shredder-related question as, "How much more secure is micro-cut than cross-cut?" and, "When is it worth buying a shredding service?" In the end we found 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 digitally, it is easy to forget that information still exists on physical sheets of paper that can be stolen the old fashioned way. In fact, there is no law against searching through trash that has been left outside a home to be collected (see 1988 case of California vs. Greenwood). So 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
Most people need a shredder fairly infrequently, with it snapping into action for the odd credit card statement or tax document. In that case the AmazonBasics 6-Sheet Micro-Cut offers great value, providing top-notch security and reliable performance for small to medium tasks at a relatively low price. If your shredding tasks are larger or more frequent the AmazonBasics 24-Sheet Cross-Cut adds extra capacity and power for a heftier but still comparably reasonable price. If you already have stacks of documents waiting to be obliterated and want the fastest device possible the Fellowes Powershred 99Ci can save you quite a bit of time, though it does come at a bit of a price premium.
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 plenty of security for most people, while micro-cut level security makes documents essentially impossible to decipher. Reliability refers to a shredder's ability to consistently shred stacks of paper at its advertised capacity. For example, if a 10-sheet model isn't reliable enough to consistently 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.
All of the models we tested were able to shred effectively, so there were no scores lower than 4 in this metric. However, there were significant performance differences between models.
The Fellowes Powershred 99Ciearned an 8 out of 10 in our shredding quality testing. It was by far the most powerful model we tested, easily tackling its advertised capacity of 18-sheets and gobbling up everything from CDs to large junk mail envelopes. The only mark against it is the fact that it uses 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 and the Bonsaii DocShred C156-C Micro-Cut both scored a 7. The Royal HD1400MX was usually able to handle its advertised 14 sheet capacity with aplomb, but we did run into one instance where it struggled and jammed. This, and the fact that it is a cross-cut model rather than a micro-cut is the only reason it lost points in this metric. Otherwise it swallowed junk mail and other odd items with no issue, and user reviews indicate that it has long-term reliability and durability. The Bonsaii DocShred C156-C Micro-Cut scored highly in this metric mostly because of the added security of its micro-cutting blades. Apart from this it was a fairly mediocre performer. It was able to handle its advertised capacity of 8 sheets but emitted a noise reminiscent of a dying weasel when doing so. Thick junk mail envelopes often caused issues as well. It utilizes a second set of blades just for shredding CD's, which are cut into three pieces. This is plenty secure unless you happen to have nuclear launch codes on your CD's, but it is both less satisfying and inspires less confidence than seeing a CD ripped into tiny bits.
The AmazonBasics 12-Sheet Cross-Cut offers decent shredding prowess for those that need more than the basic 6-sheet model, but don't want to spend big for a truly large capacity macine. In our testing it effectively shredded its stated capacity of 12 sheets, though with some groans of complaint, 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 CD's and thick envelopes. However, it jammed when presented with it advertised capacity of 16 sheets of paper. It easily 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.
All of the models we tested were able to shred basic documents to their specified level of security, though 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 shreds, it groaned and slowed down quite a bit while doing so. It was also stopped in its tracks by some thicker junk mail envelopes. The Bonsaii EverShred C169-B did actually display quite a bit of power in our test, tearing through even fully stuffed junk envelopes. However, we docked its score because we found it completely incapable of shredding its advertised capacity of a 14-sheet stack of paper, with 10 being the actual maximum we observed.
As cathartic as it is to watch clean paper get shredded into tiny little bits, it's not something you're going to want to spend hours doing. Any paper shredder can handle small jobs of 10 or fewer pages with expediency, but if your job or financial strategy routinely pushes your shredding jobs into triple digit page numbers, your life can definitely be improved with a faster shredder. To test speed we prepped many stacks of paper that matched each model's highest page capacity in size, and fed as many through each shredder as we could in a single minute.
The quickest of the models we tested is the Fellowes Powershred 99Ci. We were able to shred 180 pages into cross-cut confetti in a single minute with this machine, and it didn't even issue any noises of complaint. This astonishing speed makes it out top pick for those that often find themselves needing to shred large piles of documents.
Falling just behind its sibling, the Powershred 79Ci was abe to goble 140 sheets in a minute in our test. 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 few models that all scored a 7. The AmazonBasics 12-Sheet Cross-Cut also earned a 7, and 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. It logged a speed of 67 sheets per minute in our test.
The Royal 1400MX just missed out on being in the group of high scorers. It earned a 6, and was just slightly slower at 55 sheets per minute. The two bottom scorers, however, were well separated from the rest of the pack. The Bonsaii DocShred C156-C Micro-Cut scored a 4 with a relatively slow speed of 44 sheets per minute. This is just slightly better than half the speed of most of the high scorers and is just a bit more than a quarter the speed of the top scorer. This sacrifice in speed is most likely due to the DocShred offering the advanced security of micro-cut 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, there are certain user-friendly features that 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 up the shredding unit makes emptying easier, 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 anywhere 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 were able to closely evaluate every one of these features.
Our favorite model to use throughout our testing was the Fellowes Powershred 79Ci, earning it the top score of 8 out of 10 in this metric. 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.
The Royal HD1400MX, which scored 7 out of 10 in this metric, 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.
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 especially 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 it 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 very large 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, the bin is relatively small at 4.5 gallons and has only a small window at the front as a fill indicator. The final model to score a 6 in our ease of use 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.
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.
Let's get this out of the way: no shredder is quite. 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 instead of a nails-on-chalkboard style shriek. We recorded each model shredding both small batches as well as 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 terribly 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 fairly low pitched, consistent hum that could almost fade into the background. The AmazonBasics 24-Sheet had a similarly low hum that wasn't too grating on the ears. It also scored a 9 out of 10. The Fellowes Powershred 79Ci was closest to the top scores with a 7 out of 10. It keeps the noise fairly low, but with some higher pitched crackling noises thrown in.
The Fellowes 73Ci earned a 6 out of 10 In this metric. It produces a low hum that is fairly innocuous, but it 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 wasn't quite as bad as the two bottom scorers. Both 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.
Different people will naturally require different levels of security and different 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