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Shredder FAQ

       …Frequently Asked Questions about Shredders and Shredding

1. Why should I use a shredder?
2. What is the difference between strip-cut and cross-cut shredding?
3. What is the capacity of a shredder?
4. Can I shred anything besides paper?
5. What is a CD Shredder?
6. What is a high-security shredder?
7. Do I legally have to shred?
8. What are the sizes of paper shredders?
9. What is the history of paper shredders?
10. Where can I buy the best shredders for the best price?

Why should I use a shredder?

No one should dispose of paper documents with sensitive information by just tossing them in the trash. Names, phone numbers, social security numbers, credit card receipts, customer information, financial and health documents and trade secrets are just some examples of paper you should shred. Identity theft is real.

Some businesses and government agencies are also required to dispose of documents properly which may include using a paper shredder. For example, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) lays down strict guidelines for protecting the privacy of patient's health information and there are heavy fines/penalties for not being HIPAA compliant. See legislated reasons to shred for more.

Shredding paper is also better for the environment. You reduce the volume of waste and some people even use shredded paper for packing material (just be sure it is not sensitive material that could be pieced together without too much effort – see shred size).


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What is the difference between strip-cut and cross-cut shredding?

There are basically two kinds of shred cut: strip and cross-cut. Strip-cut shreds the paper lengthwise and cross-cut shreds both length and widthwise (producing a more secure cut). You will find machines that vary the actual size of the shred cut. Strip-cut machines are less expensive and require little maintenance, but the cross-cut machines (including high-security particle cuts) provide greater security and also significantly reduce the volume of shredded paper. See Shred Size for more.


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What is the capacity of a shredder?

The paper or sheet capacity of a shredder refers to the number of sheets you can shred in one pass. Typically the strip-cut machines will shred more at once as they are only cutting in one direction, while the cross-cut shredders must cut in two directions. Capacity can vary greatly with shredders, from as little as 3 pages to 100+, depending on the size and capability of the shredder.


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Can I shred anything besides paper?

Some paper shredders will also cut CD’s, credit cards and computer disks into small strips. These are specialized multimedia shredders, so look for this capability. A great many shredders can also handle staples and paper clips, however it can still increase wear on the cutting mechanisms. And it is not impossible for a paper clip to shoot out of the shredder while running, so it’s best to remove them if possible. However, if the shredder indicates it can take clips and staples then it will.


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What is a CD Shredder?

A CD shredder is a machine that can cut the compact disc into strips. This is a nice feature when you need to destroy data on a disc which might contain sensitive information. Some shredders also may have a feature that scratches up the surface, rather than “chewing” up the disk, making the data unreadable. Multimedia shredders are capable of shredding CDs and may also shred other formats such as credit cards and computer disks.


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What is a high-security shredder?

High-security shredders are manufactured specifically to meet standards that meet or exceed the level established by agencies such as the DOD, NSA and CSS. The cross-cut is typically very small and virtually impossible to piece together. The size has typically been 1/32” x 7/16”, but new standards have been implemented that shred even smaller. These shredders are sometimes referred to as “Level 6”. See High-Security shredders for more.


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Do I legally have to shred?

It is possible that your business or industry is required to dispose of certain information and documents that safeguard customers, employees and citizens. The HIPAA is a Federal law in the United States and is now being enforced. It requires healthcare entities including, but not limited to health plans, healthcare clearinghouses, and healthcare providers including hospitals and general practitioners to “protect the privacy of certain individually identifiable health information”. Basically, this act is stating that any Patient Health Information that contain medical information, medical history, social security numbers, ID numbers, credit card numbers, health insurance or any other personal information, must be made unreadable when discarded.

The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) affects all financial institutions, including banks, credit unions, securities brokers, real estate appraisers, insurance companies, automobile leasing companies, companies that operate travel agencies in connection with financial services, and any other entity that is “significantly involved in financial activities”. Those affected by this Act need to develop a comprehensive written information security plan and annually disclose to their customer base a detailed disclosure policy that explains how personal confidential information will be used and how they plan to safely discard of it. See here for more.

Even if you are not legally required to dispose of documents it may be wise to prevent possible litigation from anyone whose private information you handle becomes accessible. The most convenient and effective way to do this is document shredding.


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What are the sizes of paper shredders?

Paper shredders come in a variety of sizes. Most home and small businesses don’t have the volume of paper that justifies an office or departmental shredder. Nevertheless, you should determine the size of your shredder based on the number of users, frequency of use and volume of paper/documents to shred. The actual dimensions of shredders are also varied and you should be able to find the size listed with the product specifications. Typically, the bigger the capacity the larger the shredder (although this doesn’t always hold true). A home/personal machine is usually about 1-2 feet in width and about 2 feet high. Midsize office shredders are in the range of 2-4 feet high and about 2 feet wide. Departmental shredders can be as large as 5 feet high and just as wide, although many models are in the 3-4’ high x 2’ wide. Industrial shredders are even larger (10’ x 5’ and 4-5’ deep) and will have space and power considerations. You also will deal with larger freight charges the bigger the machine, as well as possible setup and installation concerns.


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What is the history of paper shredders?

Paper shredders have been in use since before World War II, but only became widespread in the last 10-15 years. If you know what a pasta maker looks like then you have an idea of the source of inspiration. The history of shredders page is fascinating (at least we think so!).


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Where can I buy the best shredders for the best price?

There are as many shredder dealers as there are shredder models and types (or so it seems). The best price should also take into consideration the quality of the machine, customer service, prompt delivery and the ability to meet your needs. You will find the best prices, selection and service on paper shredders at Factory Express, Inc.


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