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Types of Paper Shredders: Cut Type and DIN Level Explained
When you’re running a business, paper tends to pile up, from client information and expense receipts to business plans and marketing strategies. And when you’re ready to dispose of these documents and papers, it’s easy to view them as unimportant.
But these documents still have sensitive information, which can be detrimental if it falls into the wrong hands. That’s why U.S. law requires all businesses to dispose of such documents safely and securely.
Shredding documents with confidential information allows you to dispose of it securely. Wondering which documents you need to shred? The following should skip the trash can and head directly to the shredder:
- Any employee or client’s photo ID
- All bank and financial statements
- Tax returns
- All credit card information
- Employment records
- Any document with an employee or client’s sensitive information such as full name, phone number, email or address
- And so on
Shredding these documents reduces the chances of identity theft. It also saves space in the office. If you opt to store documents in the office rather than dispose of them safely, the amount of storage space they take up will grow over time.
Many small and medium-sized businesses don’t consider the different types of paper shredders before picking one. To cut costs, they opt for a low-grade shredder, leaving room for information theft since it is possible to read or piece the shredded document back together. For optimal security, you need to consider two factors: cut-type and DIN rating of a shredder.
What Are the Different Cut Types and Why Do They Matter?
The cut type of a shredder can help you determine how effective it is at shredding sensitive documents. There are three main cut types you’ll find on the market: strip, cross, and micro.
Most low-end shredders employ the strip-cutting technique, in which the shredder cuts paper in long, narrow, vertical strips. The long strips aren’t too difficult to read and you can even piece the document back together. This type of machine is suitable for non-confidential information like internal office documents.
Breakdown of strip-cut shredders:
- Not very secure – while they do shred the documents, the information may still be readable.
- Cuts an 8.5” x 11” page into approximately 18 to 39 strips, which can be pieced back together with effort.
- DIN P-1 and DIN P-2 security level.
- Tend to be noisier than other cuts.
As the name suggests, cross-cut shredders use a cross-cutting technique to make the document hard to read once shredded. It shreds paper diagonally from both corners into short, segmented particles so they are hard to piece back together. This shredder is suitable for confidential documents.
Breakdown of cross-cut shredders:
- Higher level of security than strip-cut.
- Produces shorter and narrower shreds that are difficult to read.
- Will cut an 8.5” x 11” page into approximately 400 strips.
- DIN P-3 and DIN P-4 security level.
Micro-cut shredders are the holy grail of paper shredders. They make it impossible for anyone to read or piece documents back together. The technique cuts paper diagonally and into small square particles that are smaller than confetti.
Breakdown of micro-cut shredders:
- The most advanced micro-cut shredders cut an 8.5” x 11” sheet of paper into about 3,700 particles.
- The paper is diagonally cut from both corners.
- DIN P-5 security level and higher (you may also find some micro-cut shredders classified as DIN P-4)
Which Cut Is Right for You?
Picking the right cut type depends on the type of documents you plan on shredding. Most offices that aren’t aware of cut types use strip-cut shredders because they help cut costs. However, strip-cut shredders are not designed to handle confidential documents since they cut in long strips that are readable and possible to piece back together.
To pick the right cut type for your business, assess the type of documents you have. To be on the safe side, opt for either a cross-cut or micro-cut shredder. But before you make your decisions, you need to make sure that the shredder has a good DIN rating.
What Is DIN and Why Does It Matter?
DIN is a shredder’s security level classification developed in Germany by Deutsches Institute für Normung (DIN). It has become an international standard to measure the security level of paper shredders. It measures shredding capabilities by the size and number of particles shredded. The higher the rating, the smaller the particles of the shredded document.
When browsing shredders, you will see DIN ratings that range from 1 to 7. To make it easier to understand the levels, we have classified them into three protection classes. These range from a low level of security (Class 1) to high (Class 3).
- Protection class 1 (DIN P-1 to P-3): Best for non-sensitive or internal data. Shredders with DIN P-1 on average cut an 8.5” x 11” document into 18 strips while DIN P-3 shredders create up to 195 particles from a single sheet of paper. You will find strip-cut shredders and some cross-cut paper shredders in this class.
- Protection class 2 (DIN P-3 – P-5): Ideal for confidential documents. DIN P-4 shredders, on average, cut an 8.5” x 11” size document into 390 particles, and a DIN P-5 shredder cuts it into over 2,000. You will find mostly cross-cut and some lower-end micro-cut shredders in this class.
- Protection class 3 (DIN P-4 to P-7): The most secure level of shredding used for highly confidential documents. A DIN P-6 shredder, on average, cuts an 8.5” x 11” size document into over 6,000 particles while a DIN P-7 machine shreds it into over 12,000. High-end micro-cut shredders fall under this category.
Understanding the DIN level is important to truly comprehend how effective a shredder is. With the DIN and cut-type in mind, you can select a shredder that can ensure all your data is disposed of securely.
Which Type of Paper Shredder Should You Get?
It’s clear that the higher the DIN level, the more effective a shredder is. However, as the DIN level rises, so does cost. It may be difficult for smaller businesses to invest over a thousand dollars on a shredder. That’s why you need to find the right balance between security and cost.
Small and medium-sized businesses have a lot of documents that contain sensitive information, including their employees’ and clients’ personal information, financial documents, and more. A cross-cut or micro-cut shredder is the best way to securely dispose of these types of documents. Typically, a shredder with a DIN-P-4 or DIN P-5 rating will be sufficient.
However, if your business has highly classified documents or deals with the government, you may want to consider a shredder with a higher DIN rating. Whatever type of paper shredder you choose, keep in mind that the cost will be worth the peace of mind you get from knowing your information is secure.