Paper shredders are becoming increasingly popular as more and more businesses and individuals are choosing to better protect themselves from identity theft and other crimes. They have changed a lot over the last several years and many companies are coming up with excellent improvements in not just security, but ease of use and safety as well. In this guide, I hope to explain in detail what paper shredders do, what options are available, and what all the different types offer. First thing I’d like to discuss is the three basic types of cut styles available for paper shredders: Strip-cut, Confetti-cut and Micro-cut. This determines the size of pieces your documents will be shredded into, and is probably the most important factor in determining what paper machine to buy. Strip-Cut Paper Shredders Strip-cut paper shredders cut documents into thin strips. A standard letter size piece of paper is cut into approximately 40-50 strips. This was the original style of shredder and offers the lowest level of security. However, it is still a big step above just tearing something up and throwing it in the trash, and they can usually be found for a lot less money than some of the other types of shredders. Strip-cut shredders are a good choice for people and companies who want to dispose of documents but do not need a very high level of security. Confetti-Cut Paper Shredders Confetti-cut paper shredders, also known as cross-cut are the most popular type of paper shredder and offer a much higher level of security than the strip-cut variety. A standard letter size paper is cut into approximately 300-400 small square pieces. This makes it very hard for someone to be able to retrieve sensitive information from the documents. This type of shredding can be useful if you have documents with sensitive information such as bank account numbers and credit card numbers. While some computer programs can be used to piece together documents that have been shredded into strips, it is next to impossible to be able to decipher anything that has been shredded into the smaller confetti sized pieces. Confetti-cut paper shredders work well for people and companies who require a high level of security. Micro-Cut Paper Shredders Micro-cut shredders offer the highest level security available. They can shred a letter size paper into approximately 1600-3000 tiny pieces. It is literally impossible to retrieve information from a document that has been fed through a micro-cut shredder which is one of the reasons they are so popular with government agencies and large corporations. They work best for people or companies who have a high risk of someone trying to steal classified or secret information from them. Another nice feature is that because they shred documents into such small pieces, you won’t have to change the bags as often as with other shredders. Once you decide which type of paper shredder is going to suit your needs the best, it is very easy to choose which specific shredder to buy based on a few other necessary criteria. One thing that is important to know is how much you will be using it. You will want to make sure that you select one that can handle the amount of daily usage you think you’ll need. This can usually be determined on what environment it will be used in. Daily usage can be broken down to 4 basic categories, personal, small office, general office and commercial. Personal are designed for 1 person, while small office are made for 1-5 daily users. For larger offices a general office shredder can support 6-10 people and for 10 or more users there are the commercial versions. Most of the major brands have integrated some great features into their shredders. For example both Fellowes and GBC have available models which utilize technology to prevent paper jams and Fellowes has a line of Safe-Sense machines which help prevent accidental injuries. Hopefully this article will help you narrow down your search to a few specific products, and make your decision a lot easier.