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Paper Shredders and Security Ratings: Which is Right for You?

When you are looking to buy a new paper shredder, whether it is for your personal use or a business office, you will likely notice that each unit has a number on it. P2, P3, P4, or something like this will be listed on the box. This number indicates the security level provided to you by the cutting done by each machine. Keep reading to learn how secure each level is and what security level is right for you.

The Seven Level of Security for Paper Shredding

The is a security system called DIN 66399 Standard. This system applies to the destruction of all sensitive information on paper. The higher the security number (P1 through P7), the smaller the pieces of paper the shredders produce. Here are a list of the security levels and the sizes of paper that meet the requirements.

  • P1: Very Low-Security Level
    • Strip cut
    • Strip width is less than .5 inches wide
    • Strip length can be unlimited
    • Approximately 17.5 strips per document
  • P2: Very Low-Security Level
    • Strip cut
    • Strip width is less than .25 inches
    • Strip length can be unlimited
    • Approximately 35 strips per document
  • P3: Medium Security Level
    • Crosscut
    • Piece size is less than .08 inches wide
    • Approximately 195 or more pieces
  • P4: Medium Security Level
    • Crosscut
    • Piece size is less than .24 inches wide
    • Approximately 395 or more pieces per document
  • P5: High-Security Level
    • Micro Cut
    • Piece size is less than .08 inches wide
    • Approximately 2080 or more pieces per document
  • P6: Very High-Security Level
    • Micro Cut
    • Piece size is less than .04 inches wide
    • Approximately 6,240 pieces per document
  • P7: Extremely High-Security Level
    • Micro Cut
    • Piece size is less than .04 inches wide
    • Approximately 12,480 pieces per document

Types of paper shredders

There are three standard types of paper shredders available on the market today. Those three types are listed below.

  • Strip cut
    • This shredder has the lowest security level and should probably only be used on non-sensitive paperwork.
  • Cross Cut
    • This shredder has a mid-range security level. This shredder would likely be ok for personal documents or mail with addresses on it. Some smaller piece producing crosscut units are good for company documents and more sensitive materials.
  • Micro Cut
    • This shredder has the highest security level. These units are best used on confidential medical documents or financial information.

Each machine will come with a specific P rating that will indicate the size of the strip or pieces each unit leaves. You will want to compare your unit type and strip, or piece cut to determine the security level if you do not see it marked on your box.
Something important to note is that the smaller the pieces are, typically the fewer the documents that can be shredded and the longer the process will take.

What level of paper shredding do you need?

Lower levels of paper shredding such as P1 and P2s shred the paper pretty quickly, and most quality machines can handle larger bundles of papers, sometimes even the ability to handle paper clips or file folders. While P3 and P4s generally meet legal document shredding requirements, they also still shred as speeds that usually meet most office and personal needs. Once you move to a micro cut machine, you will need to read about the volume and rate that that machine will utilize. Once you have determined those factors, you will need to weigh the option of having the absolute highest security available from a paper shredder.
You will want to review what kind of documents you will be shredding. Tons of offices with less sensitive information to destroy with the need for significant reports or massive volumes of paper to shred may find a high capacity strip cutter to be best. If you work in a field or handle a lot of personal information that is sensitive but still needs to be handled in an expedited way, you may want to look into a crosscut model. If the information you are shredding is of the highest sensitivity, and you or the law requires further careful destruction of that information, you will want to look into a micro cut machine.

PBS and a Paper Shredder for You

Here at PBS office, we offer a wide variety of paper cutters. We have strip cut, crosscut, and micro cut units. Each device has its different piece sizes as well as speeds and volume. If you have any questions about which of these devices might work best for you or your company’s needs, please feel free to use our handy chat feature or contact us directly. Our team can advise you on how to choose a paper new shredder for your office or home.  

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