Shredder Security Levels Explained

Office shredders are classified by the security level they provide the user. This is basically a measure of how well the shredded document is destroyed and the size of the particles produced after the paper has been shredded. The smaller the particles produced the harder it is to read, or piece back together, the document that was destroyed.

The international standard used to measure shredders security has recently been changed by the EU from DIN 32757 to DIN 66399. What this means for the consumer is that instead of shredders being classified under 6 potential levels they now have 42. Within this post we will do our best to explain the new levels and what you need to look for when purchasing your shredder. Before we do that, it’s best to outline the common types of office shredders available on the market;

Strip Cut Shredders

Often also referred to as ribbon cut shredders they create thin strips of paper that measure between 12mm and 2mm in width. Strip cut shredders have less work to do than cross cut shredders as they only cut paper one way. This can make them quicker and capable of handling more paper than many cross cut models.

office shredder

Cross Cut Shredders

Cross cut shredders can also be called confetti cut or particle cut due to the small pieces of paper produced by the shredding process. Shredded particles vary in size (this impacts their security levels which we’ll cover below) from 10mm x 80mm to 1mm x 5mm. They are generally not as quick to destroy documents as strip cut shredders and can handle less paper at a time, however the small size of the particles produced make them a much more secure option. Another advantage over strip cut shredders is that the shredded particles compact much more and this means less waste bin emptying.

Shredder Security Levels – What you need to Know

As we mentioned above office shredders were classified into 6 security levels under the old DIN 32757 international standards. The level awarded to each shredder was based on the size of the paper particles produced. Level one offered the lowest security level and covered strip cur shredders that produce the largest strips of paper. Level six was the highest level and most secure and this covered the ultra high secure particle cut shredders used by government or military bodies. For daily use around the office or at home we recommended level three cross cut shredders. For those wishing to destroy sensitive documents then we would advise the use of level four shredders.

The new standards have now changed these classifications from six levels to a possible 42. The guidelines split different types of media that can be shredded into six categories, within each category there are seven levels. In the same way as the old guidelines worked, level one is the least secure and the highest level (now seven) is the most secure.

The new standards split media on which data can be stored into the categories outlined below;

Category CodeCategory NameExamples
P Information in Original Size Paper, X-ray Films
O Optical Data Media CD’s, DVD’s, Blu-Ray
T Magnetic Data Media Floppy Disks, ID Cards with magnetic strips
E Electronic Data Media USB Sticks, Flash Drives, Solid State Drives
F Information in reduced form films and foils
H Hard drives Hard drives with magnetic data media

We will focus on the paper category (P), as this is the type of shredder we sell. When viewing the shredder section on our website each description will now show a ‘P’ followed by a number ranging from ‘1’ to ‘7’. The table below shows how the new levels translate into security and the size of the paper particles produced;

Security LevelShred SizeUses
P-1 12mm Strip Cut - For shredding general internal documents
P-2 6mm Strip Cut – For internal documents
P-3 320mm2 Small Strip Cut and Large Cross Cut - For confidential documents
P-4 160mm2 Cross Cut – For sensitive information
P-5 30mm2 Cross Cut – For highly sensitive documents
P-6 10mm2 Particle Cut – For extremely high security, used by the military and government bodies
P-7 5mm2 Particle Cut - Ultra secure, the highest level possible

For daily office use where there may be a mix of document types being destroyed we would recommend a level ‘P-3’ shredder. For organisations, companies or departments that handle sensitive or highly confidential information we suggest a level ‘P-4’ shredder.

If you need any more help or advice on which office shredder to purchase please call the Office Allsorts team on 0115 9455833.


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

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