A Guide to Shredders

Buying a shredder can be a confusing experience with many different features available and new terms to learn.

There are primarily three types of shredder available on the market today;

1) Strip Cut Shredders

2) Cross Cut Shredders

3) Crypto Cut Shredders

Paper Shredder Security Levels - DIN 32757

Before we begin our overview of the different types of shredders it is important to explain shredder security levels. One of the primary reasons for purchasing a shredder is to destroy paper which contains potentially sensitive information. Shredders are catagorised by DIN 32757 into six levels which define a shredders ability to complete this primary task.

Level 1 = Shreds into 12mm strips

Level 2 = Shreds into 6mm strips

Level 3 = Shreds into 2mm strips (Confidential)

Level 4 =Shreds into 2 x 15mm particles (Commercially Sensitive)

Level 5 = Shreds into 0.8 x 12mm particles (Top Secret or Classified)

Strip Cut Shredders

Strip cut shredders have parallel blades that produce long strips of paper shreddings. This differs to both cross cut and crypto cut shredders that have intersecting blades and produce much smaller paper shreddings. Strip cut shredders are available in a wide range of sizes for different applications and are suitable for basic home use, a home office or even for large departmental shredders.

A final advantage strip cut shredders have over the other types of shredder is their paper shredding capacity. Due to the simplicity of the shredding mechanism they are able to shred many more sheets in one go making the shredding process quicker for the user.

The primary disadvantage of strip cut shredders are their lower security levels (Security Levels 1-3). If you are shredding very sensitive information then a strip cut shredder is not the machine for you. Another minor disadvantage is that typically strip cut shredder bins have to be emptied more frequently as the shreddings produced are larger and don’t compact as neatly as cross cut and crypto cut shredders.

Cross Cut Shredders

Cross cut shredders are now by far the most popular type of shredder purchased as they offer superior security over the strip cut shredder. Cross cut shredders typically have a security rating of either 3-4. They achieve this through their cutting mechanism which cuts the paper in two directions.

Cross cut shredders have two main benefits, firstly they create much smaller paper shreddings which are harder to read and therefore provide a high level of data security. Secondly, as the paper is shredded into such small pieces it compacts in the shredder bin more meaning the bin has to be emptied less.

As the cutting mechanism on cross cut shredders is more complex it means that the machines are generally more expensive, however, having said that like any form of technology prices are continually coming down and entry level machines are now very affordable.

It always worth bearing in mind that you get what you pay for and the quality of the cutting blades in cheaper machines is often not as good as those in the more expensive models. Many lower priced cross cut shredders use plastic blades which can break quite easily. The more expensive models from manufacturers such as Rexel and Fellowes use metal blades which come with a long warranty offering the user peace of mind.

Crypto Cut Shredders

Crypto Cut Shredders offer the highest security covering levels 5 and 6. This type of shredder is typically used in situations where security of information is critically important, for example Government or Military Departments. The paper shreddings produced by crypto cut shredders are so small it would be virtually impossible for a breach in security to take place.


When purchasing a paper shredder the first thing to do is to think about what you are shredding and why. If the shredder is for home use then a simple strip cut shredder will probably suffice, however the price of cross cut shredders is falling all the time and it may be worth investing that little extra money for greater peace of mind. If you’re in the market for a home office shredder or office shredder then again a strip cut shredder may be up to the job for day to day use. If you have any commercially sensitive documents then a good cross cut shredder is an absolute must.

We have an extensive selection of shredders to suit all budgets and cater for all requirements. Please follow the links below to browse our range.

All Shredders

Strip Cut Shredders Only

Cross Cut Shredders Only

You can find out about the 5 types of Rexel shredders here.


Carl Barton is a director of Office Allsorts who has worked in the office products industry for 15 years.

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