A good paper shredder can keep your family's personal information safe and give you peace of mind. We put 26 models through their paces, shredding more than 15,000 pages in the process, to find which machines made the cut.
If you're looking for a real workhorse that can churn through a year's worth of receipts at tax time, a 10- or 12-sheet shredder will fit the bill, but smaller 6- and 8-sheet units will likely take up less space in your home office. But all the models we’ve recommended, regardless of size, offer cross-cut shredding, meaning extra security for your most important documents.
If you need a shredder that's easy to tote from room to room, Black & Decker's petite Studio model ($50, amazon.com) has you covered. This sleek model was among the lightest units in our test and we found it plenty easy to use, from feeding to emptying the bin. It's quiet to boot, but the Black & Decker can't handle much more than 100 pages in a session — this model is better suited for light-duty jobs than churning through a year's worth of documents at the end of tax season.
Even with its smaller capacity, you won't have to compromise with the Aleratec DVD/CD Shredder Plus DS2 ($125). This full-featured model boasts a bin-full indicator and overheat warning, and will alert you if you overload its paper feed; it's also the only 6-sheet shredder that can also handle CDs. Its large bin means emptying isn't a top priority, but the Aleratec isn't quite the workhorse of the bunch — we found that it could only handle a few dozen pages in a session.
When it comes to 8-sheet shredders, the sizable Ativa MDM 8000 ($149.99) is the total package. This stellar shredder comes fully loaded with a bin-full indicator and overheat warning and it makes quick work of anything you can throw at it — staples, paperclips, CDs, credit cards — without a fuss. We found it plenty easy to empty and, best of all, it didn't make a mess or send paper shreds flying when we dumped out the basket.
Don't worry about loading up the Staples SPL-TXC82A ($59.99, staples.com) — we found it tough to jam this inexpensive 8-sheeter, even when we put through bigger bundles of paper. It's lightweight too; luckily, since you'll have to lift the top off when it alerts you to empty the bin. This Staples model was one of the noisier units in our test, but it's tough to beat the unit's shredding performance among 8-sheet shredders.
You won't have to worry about stashing the Royal PX1000MX ($47) under your desk — with its stylish design, this capable paper shredder is anything but an eyesore. The unit's uniquely tapered input makes it easy to feed and the side-loading bin means no heavy lifting to empty out the shreds. The Royal had the largest basket of our recommended shredders to boot, but you'll have to keep an eye on it while shredding — there's no warning when the bin is full, so it's up to you to know when to empty it.
Our top pick for a 12-sheet model was also tops in our paper shredder test. The moderately-priced Ativa MD 1200 ($89.99, ativaproducts.com) is a workhorse, handling more than 400 pages in a session and gobbling up credit cards, staples, CDs, and paperclips without even a hiccup. Our only complaint: the unit's small bin size, which means you'll have to empty it out frequently.
You'll pay more of a premium for Staples' SPL-TXC122A ($149.99, staples.com), but for your money you get a powerful unit that churns through sheets super fast. If you’re looking for security, this model's impressively large bin means that shreds can mix, making it harder for would-be identity thieves to piece together your sensitive documents. There are plenty of bells and whistles like a bin-full indicator and an overheat warning; we just wish it didn't require you to lift the heavy shredding mechanism off to empty out the basket.
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