After researching over 50 paper shredders over the last six years, our home office experts have settled on the top 13 to put through rigorous hands-on testing. In our test lab, we tear through thousands of (recycled) pages to evaluate the power and speed of each model. We also push these machines and their blades to the limit with tougher items like CDs, credit cards, and junk mail envelopes. Whether you end up with mountains of documents that need to be shredded into the smallest bits possible or want to go that extra step to protect your peace of mind, this review can help you find the best paper shredder for your needs and budget.
Security Level: Cross-Cut | Sheets per Minute: 185
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
If you're currently staring at boxes of files ready to shred, the Fellowes PowerShred 99Ci can tackle that stack swiftly. During our tests, it clocked a maximum shredding speed of 180 pages per minute. Furthermore, this machine readily gobbles up everything you throw at it, from thick envelopes to CDs to credit cards. Despite the power, the PowerShred 99Ci is one of the quietest models we had the pleasure of testing. Your cubicle mates will undoubtedly notice the sound, but they won't request a desk switch due to the noise.
The PowerShred 99Ci is a cross-cut model, meaning it produces long strips instead of the confetti-style shreds produced by micro-cut blades. Still, cross-cuts offer a very decent level of security, and disposing of lots of shreds at once makes piecing the information back together even less feasible. The biggest downside, however, is the cost. It is noticeably pricey and a rather sizeable investment, but we think it's worth the price for those who regularly shred 100+ page documents.
Security Level: Micro-Cut | Sheets per Minute: 133
REASONS TO BUY
Intuitive user interface
REASONS TO AVOID
Trash bin sticks
Subpar credit card shredder
The Amazon Basics 12 Sheet Micro-Cut offers high-quality and high-security shredding at a more-than-fair price. This powerful machine turns stacks of 12 sheets into piles of 5/32-inch confetti pieces and exceeds its advertised limits by chewing through stacks as thick as 16 pieces. While it comes equipped with a credit card and CD slot, the 12-Sheet Micro-Cut also tears credit cards to bits through the main slot. This makes junk mail a breeze; no need to open up those pre-approved credit card envelopes anymore. The interface is also intuitive and informative, offering error lights and straightforward commands.
The designated credit card slot merely cuts your card into two pieces, which is subpar in the security department, but our biggest gripe with this shredder is its drawer. For such a user-friendly device, the sticky pullout basket is a significant inconvenience. In the grand scheme, the few nitpicky issues we experience with this shredder are minor blips on an otherwise well-thought-out, high-performing machine. The Amazon Basics 12-Sheet Micro-Cut is a great small office or household shredder.
Security Level: Cross-Cut | Sheets per Minute: 171
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
Cumbersome to empty
The Aurora AU1230XA Anti-Jam 12-Sheet Crosscut offers fast shredding at a budget-friendly price. Although the name suggests that it maxes out at a 12-sheet stack, this device happily chews through 13 sheets at a time. It averages 171 sheets per minute, which is right up there with some of the more expensive top performers in our review. It easily slices up junk mail, although it does not do so as thoroughly with particularly thick envelopes. Its compact body makes for easy storage when it's not in use. The uncomplicated user interface is easy to navigate, with a simple sliding button clearly labeled off, forward for shredding, and backward for de-jamming.
While we can push the limits a little with 13-sheet stacks, the Aurora AU1230XA routinely jams at 14 sheets, so it is best to stick with 12 or 13 sheets per load. It is easy to tell when the 5.2-gallon bin is full, but cleaning it out is a hassle. Because the bin is not on drawer slides, you have to remove the heavy shredder top when it is full. This is a minor inconvenience, but an inconvenience nonetheless. It also struggles with sufficiently shredding credit cards, indicated by a distinct, higher-pitched, try-hard noise. Overall the Aurora AU1230XA 12-sheet is a great option for the casual shredder looking for speed and budget-friendliness.
The Amazon Basics 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 to hide away under a desk. Despite its 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 in need of proper disposal. It posts a maximum speed of 96 sheets per minute and easily chews through stuffed junk mail envelopes and even credit cards — more than enough performance for most home offices.
The primary drawback to the Amazon Basics 8-Sheet Cross-Cut is the noise. We don't think your house or office mates will appreciate its relatively shrill whine, as it can get annoying quickly. The bin can also be challenging to empty. If you only rely on this device for the occasional home office use as designed, these issues should not be deal-breakers. Unless you regularly shred dozens of pages at a time, the Amazon Basics 8-Sheet Cross-Cut might provide you with all your shredding needs at an attractively low price.
The Aurora AS420C Desktop is an excellent choice if you've managed to keep your paper documents to the bare minimum but still need a convenient way to dispose of the occasional sensitive page or two. This tiny, no-frills paper shredder is powerful enough to chew through a few pages at a time or a credit card on its own. It is also small enough to inconspicuously live on a shelf or the corner of your desk until you need to pull it out, making it great for personal use. The noise it makes is also surprisingly innocuous and doesn't have the usual whine we expect from smaller, less expensive machines.
Unfortunately, this paper shredder is simply not designed for heavy use. Long documents or frequent shredding warrants the consideration of a larger unit because heavy use is likely to stress the tiny motor of this machine. That said, the AS420C is a great choice for those who only need to shred a few pages per week and don't want to sacrifice too much office real estate.
While completing this review, we shredded over 5000 pages of recycled documents ranging from standard 8.5 by 11-inch 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 shredders 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.
Our paper shredder testing is divided across four different metrics:
Shredding Quality (40% of overall score weighting)
Speed (35% weighting)
Ease of Use (15% weighting)
Noise (10% weighting)
Max Mutter and Steven Tata have been leading GearLab's office product testing since 2016. So far, they've gotten their hands on well over 100 home office products, from the best 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 models really work and the best way to meet the various needs of a small office. Hayley Thomas is our most recent addition to this team and has been testing products for GearLab since 2019. All three of these testers consider every office product they test through the lens of a home user and are thus quite familiar with that landscape.
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 sensitive details on physical sheets of paper can still be stolen the old-fashioned way. If you need to dispose of any physical documents that could tempt an identity thief, a good paper shredder is a worthwhile investment.
An in-house shredder is not a must for everyone. Generally speaking, most people only need it for the odd credit card statement or tax document. In that case, the Amazon Basics 8-Sheet Cross-Cut offers strong value, providing moderate security and reliable performance for infrequent, small to medium-sized tasks at a low price. If your shredding jobs are greater or more frequent, the Amazon Basics 24-Sheet Cross-Cut adds extra capacity and power for a heftier but comparably affordable price. Between these two products is the Aurora AU1230XA 12-Sheet Crosscut, a compact model that provides the best bargain performance for most home and home office needs.
Shredding quality is a three-part metric: 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 extremely difficult 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 without overheating the motor. For example, if a 10-sheet model isn't reliable enough to continuously shred stacks of 10 pages, you may end up with readable chunks of documents in your waste bin as the blades falter under the stressing workload. 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 each shredder and meticulously evaluated the resulting confetti to assess overall shredding quality.
The Amazon Basics 12-Sheet Micro-Cut and 8-Sheet Micro-Cut offer some of the highest levels of security. Both can exceed their eight and 12-sheet maximum loads and turn those stacks into a pile of 5/32-inches by 5/32-inches confetti pieces. While they both have credit card slots, the main shredding slot offers a more thorough shred.
The TRU RED 12-Sheet Micro-Cut smoothly shreds multiple credit cards while maintaining normal sound and exceeds its 12-sheet maximum by one to two pages, and has no problem with a paperclip or two if you forget to take them off.
An honorable mention is the Fellowes Powershred 99Ci for its sheer power. The Powershred efficiently tackles its advertised capacity of 18 sheets while gobbling up everything from CDs to large junk mail envelopes with ease. The only reason it doesn't score closer to perfection is that it utilizes cross-cut blades rather than micro-cut. The 24-Sheet Cross-Cut is also worth noting as it easily tears through a stack of 26 sheets.
The Aurora Anti-Jam 12-Sheet Crosscut delivers a solid performance in our shredding tests. It easily tears through a stack of its advertised 12-sheet capacity. It also shreds stuffed junk mail envelopes. The cross-cut security level is likely more than enough for most people. It can handle credit cards and forgotten staples as well, but it is not rated for shredding CDs.
All of the models we tested could shred basic documents to their specified level of security. However, some struggled a bit with 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 displayed 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.
Most paper shredders can handle small jobs of 10 or fewer pages with expediency, and this may be all you require. Still, if your job or financial strategy routinely pushes your shredding tasks into triple-digit page numbers, you need to consider speed. To test this, we prep stacks of paper that match each model's highest page capacity and feed as many stacks through each shredder as we can over a single minute.
The quickest of the models we tested is the Fellowes Powershred 99Ci. You can shred 185 pages into cross-cut strips in a single minute with this machine. This astonishing speed makes it a great option for those who regularly need to shred large piles of documents. The 24-Sheet also performs highly in this department simply because of how many pages it can shred simultaneously. The Aurora AU1230XA Anti-Jam 12-Sheet Crosscut, which is one of our more budget-friendly options, happily chews through 171 pages over one minute.
Next up is the TRU RED 12-Sheet Micro-Cut and the Powershred 79Ci. The TRU RED can gobble up 151 sheets in a minute, while the 79Ci mows down an admirable 140. 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).
Ease of Use
Paper shredders are relatively simple machines that don't present too many difficulties beyond the occasional jam, but certain user-friendly features can make your experience more streamlined. The general user-friendliness of these devices heavily weighs on the waste bin. The size and ease of the slide are what set these bins apart. Larger bins offer more time between dumps, and the ability to slide a bin out without having to lift the shredding unit makes emptying more manageable. Clear indicators of when the bin is full can also be helpful in the prevention of a confetti avalanche that 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 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.
The Fellowes Powershred 79Ci is one of the top scorers in this category. 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. A 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.
After these top scorers, we have a slew of models that land in the "average" range regarding 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.
Let's get this out of the way from the beginning: no paper shredder is quiet. Lots of tiny blades tearing through paper with a whirring motor will inevitably 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 measure loudness with a decimeter and also record each model shredding both small batches and motor-stressing large loads and listen 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 two models outperform the rest by a landslide; the Powershred 99Ci and the Amazon Basics 24-Sheet Cross-Cut. They have similar low-pitched hums that are noticeable but not grating, making them the least offensive of the bunch. The Fellowes Powershred 79Ci comes in at a close second. It has a relatively low-pitched, consistent hum that could almost fade into the background. The Amazon Basics 12-Sheet High-Security Micro-Cut also keeps volume reasonably low, with a few higher-pitched crackling noises thrown in.
Every office and user requires a varying degree of security concerns and capacity amounts for their paper shredders. Our hand-selected options include appropriate options no matter what your needs may be or how they might change over time. We hope our test results help you narrow the field of prospective options and help you choose the best paper shredder for your shredding goals and budget.