Buy a Shredder Big Enough for Small Business

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The paper-free office is starting to sound like a World of Tomorrow future that never quite arrived. (Read: Where’s my jetpack?) I already have ways to destroy my digital data, especially when getting rid of an old PC or hard drive, but a shredder is a must to obliterate printed data. That sounds simple enough, but these tips can help you pick a model for a home or a small business.

I initially bought a $50, consumer-grade shredder, the Techko SH4105PF. The box said it eats up CDs, credit cards, and cross-cuts five pages at a time--what’s not to like? The shredder lived up to those claims, but I didn’t realize the limits of five sheets until I tried to mulch through some old records. I wasted lots of time, slowly feeding in small groups of pages together--time I could have spent working or relaxing. The small basket size also led to constant emptying, and the motor regularly jammed with heavy use.

While you could spend many hundreds--or thousands--of dollars on a large-office shredder, I found a sweet spot in a $180 device. I picked a 17-sheet-at-a-time Fellows Powershred SB-97Cs with a much larger, 10-gallon basket. Plus, it has neat pictographs warning me to keep hands, hair, neckties, and babies away from its business end. $180 seemed like a lot initially, but this shredder has easily saved hours of time. My only complaint is that the nine-inch mouth can’t accommodate unfolded, wide documents.

When I bought the shredder, Amazon tried to up-sell me on brand-name oil. Don’t bite. Instead, just apply several drops of vegetable oil across a few pieces of paper. Run that through every month or so to keep the teeth clean.

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