Our Top Pick for 2019: Fellowes 99Ci 100% Jam Proof
Read our full review.
There are many reasons to own a paper shredder. Did you know that there are laws requiring certain types of material to be shredded and that failure to do so can result in fines and penalties? Suddenly, springing the money for a quality paper shredder like the Fellowes 99ci sounds like a wise investment. If you own a business, you’ll not only be protecting yourself from the law but also your customers and employees from dumpster-diving identity thieves. These days, you can shred more than just papers, you can also shred CDs, credit cards, floppy disks, and pretty much anything that may contain sensitive personal or business information.
#1. Fellowes 99Ci 100% Jam Proof
The Fellowes 99Ci is hailed as the best paper shredder for good reason, or, that is to say, for every reason. Yes, it is also the most expensive item on this list, but it quickly becomes apparent that you’ll get what you pay for and more. Backed by a two-year product warranty and lifetime cutter warranty, this paper shredder will last long enough to make you forget ever feeling hesitant about the price. Its state-of-the-art features include the 100% Jam Proof System, SafeSense Technology, SilentShred, the Energy Savings System, and a nine-gallon pullout bin.
Nothing is more frustrating than needing to fix a paper jam. It takes time and energy away from the things you need or want to do, which is literally anything else. The Fellowes 99Ci gets rid of this annoyance with its patented 100% Jam Proof System. There are three levels of jam prevention at work. Level One uses a sensor in the paper entry to measure the paper thickness to prevent overfeeding. Level Two powers through those pesky wrinkles and folds, and it will reverse automatically if it’s too crumpled. Level Three uses a light bar to provide instant feedback so you are always aware of the recommended sheet capacity, maximizing productivity.
For those with children, the biggest worry is keeping the shredder out of reach of tiny hands, lest they poke in and get lost forever. Those fears can be put to rest with this machine, thanks to the Fellowes SafeSense Technology. What may look like a decorative metal trim surrounding the paper entry is actually an advanced electronic safety sensor that automatically disables the shredder when hands touch the paper opening. This works through heat-sensitive technology that won’t confuse a body part for paper, leaving you and your family safe and protected while remaining efficient.
If you’ve ever used a paper shredder before, you know how loud they can get. Featuring ultra-quiet SilentShred performance, the 99Ci has a motor that gives off a faint low-level, low-frequency drone that won’t distract or interrupt others nearby. The only thing you’ll hear is the sound of it doing its job: shredding your documents into unreadable cross-cut particles. At 56 decibels, it is by far the quietest on this list.
The 99Ci also features the revolutionary Energy Savings System, which is the only system to maximize energy savings 100% of the time – both in and out of use. With Standby and Sleep Modes when out of use and efficient performance and power supply when in use, this shredder is one of the leading energy efficient models on the market today.
The nine-gallon pullout bin this machine uses will also maximize the time you save. Unlike a bag, the bin won’t bunch up the paper in the middle, causing the need for you to tamper it down before proceeding with more shredding. However, if you find you need more space, some users have successfully connected and used up to a 30-gallon bag with no difficulty. While it’s not officially designed for that, it’s nice to know that you have the option.
The unit itself looks sleek and professional. It’s well-built with some visual enhancements other paper shredders don’t have, such as the LED indicators on top that tell you exactly what’s going on with the bin and how to best maximize shredding efficiency. It can run continuously for up to 30 minutes, with a 40-minute cool down period afterwards. The 99Ci can cut up to 18 sheets of paper at a time, and cross-cuts them into Security Level P-4 dimensions.
The downside here is that the 99Ci is also the largest unit on this list, and at 38 pounds, the heaviest, so those looking for a compact shredder may be disappointed by the size and weight. The dimensions are 25.19″ H x 13.81″ W x 17.75″ D. Fortunately, it does come with wheels to make it easy to move around, but unfortunately, they can be rather difficult to install. Still, even with these few downsides, the Fellowes 99Ci easily takes the Gold Pick.
#2. AmazonBasics 12-Sheet High-Security
If you’re looking for the highest level of protection, the AmazonBasics 12-Sheet High-Security Micro-Cut Paper Shredder might be the best option for you. Like it says in the name, this unit shreds paper into micro-cut pieces, which are six times smaller than cross-cut. For reference, the previous entry, the Fellowes 99Ci, cross-cuts paper into about 360 pieces. This may seem like a lot, but it’s absolutely dwarfed by the mind-boggling 2,235 pieces a micro-cut shredder like the AmazonBasics is capable of producing. This Security Level P-5 protection practically guarantees that nothing you shred will ever have the chance of being put back together again.
This does come with a couple of downsides, though. A longer shredding time is the price to pay for this heightened security. Micro-cut machines do take longer than cross-cut machines, much in the same way that those take longer than their strip-cut brethren. And this unit in particular has the lowest continuous run time of the top three on this list at eight minutes, after which a 45-minute cool down period is required. If you plan on doing a lot of continuous shredding and want it done as quickly as possible, you need to ask yourself how important the extra security is to you.
It’s not all bad news, though, as this AmazonBasics shredder has plenty more going for it. The first thing that most people may notice when doing a cursory glance of the top three shredders on this list is that this is the least expensive one (not counting the budget pick, of course). Because it’s made by Amazon, they can focus on creating high-quality products and materials without spending on marketing and distribution expenses, thereby passing on the savings to the customer. Couple that with their one-year limited warranty, and you have a strong, well-built shredder that won’t micro-cut your paycheck.
The AmazonBasics 12-Sheet may not have the Fellowes SafeSense Technology, but it was designed with safety in mind. It may take some getting used to at first, but the angled paper entry prevents hands from accidentally coming into contact with the blades. It has a separate slot where you can insert CDs and credit cards, and if you’ll be shredding lots of these types of materials, this should be your go-to shredder, as there is a remarkable difference between a micro-cut credit card and one that is cross-cut.
There are three settings to choose from when using this unit: Auto, Off, and Reverse. In Auto mode, it powers on once the sensor detects that you inserted something to be shredded, and quickly powers down after. Off is self-explanatory and, if there are children around, should be used whenever the unit is not in use. And in the case of a paper jam, the manual reverse can help to clear it out with minimal effort on your part. In a busy office setting, it can be left on Auto without worrying about it expending a lot of energy.
This AmazonBasics shredder weighs 25.8 pounds and has the following dimensions: 24.29″ H x 17.01″ W x 13.39″ D. At 65 decibels, it’s comparatively quiet to other machines, but still the loudest of the top three. The black design looks sturdy and professional, although the LED light can be overly bright. Its 6.7-gallon pullout bin slides in and out easily, and the caster wheels provide easy mobility even on carpeted areas.
#3. Bonsaii EverShred C149-C 18-Sheet
The powerful selling point of the Bonsaii EverShred C149-C is definitely its patented cooling system. This shredder can be put to 60 minutes of continuous use with only a ten minute cool down period. If you find yourself with stacks of paper to shred on a consistent basis, then this machine will become your new best friend. The C149-C cross-cuts up to 18 sheets of paper at a time, in addition to CDs, credit cards, and things like staples and paper clips. It also comes with a one-year warranty on all parts.
With a noise level of 62 decibels, you won’t drive everyone nearby deaf with your long, continuous shredding. The C149-C has a steady airflow to keep the motor from overheating, allowing it to continue to dampen the noise from grinding and shredding for as long as you wish to feed it. You won’t find this machine revving up and getting louder to keep up with you.
Unlike the other items on this list, the Bonsaii EverShred has a wide, clear display window on its 6-gallon pullout wastebasket. This way, you’ll know exactly how full it is without needing to open it and risk any bits of paper from becoming airborne and littering your office or home. Yes, it is smaller than the previous two entries, and with one hour of shredding time, you’ll find it filling up fast, but you’ll still be saving lots of time that otherwise would have gone to waiting for another machine’s cool down period.
It may not have the Fellowes 99Ci patented three-level Jam Proof System, but the C149-C does have its own Jam Protection System. It focuses on the most important level, which is its automatic reverse function to keep papers from getting stuck and keep you working happily. After all, a 60 minute run time wouldn’t mean much if most of that time was spent unjamming paper.
Like the AmazonBasics shredder, the Bonsaii EverShred has the same three settings to switch between on the top of the unit. However, much to the confusion of more than a few consumers, it also has an On/Off switch located on the back by the energy cable. Perhaps it could be safety by redundancy, but the fact that it has two Off settings, the more important of which is hidden, can lead to unnecessary frustration, especially if you intend to place the unit where it will be difficult to reach around behind it. Luckily, the wheels make it easy to move, and the addition of the brakes ensures it won’t be going anywhere you don’t want it to go.
The C149-C comes in the classic black color as the rest of the items on this list, but the clear view into the wastebasket definitely sets it apart from any other paper shredder. It really does boil down to personal preference at that point, but it is a good-looking machine. The dimensions are 21.38″ H x 14.25″ W x 11.5″ D, and it weighs in at 26.8 pounds.
#4. AmazonBasics 6-Sheet Cross-Cut
The AmazonBasics name makes its second appearance on this list with a great, ultra-low cost paper shredder. As previously mentioned, Amazon is able to provide quality products at affordable prices, so don’t let the price fool you into thinking this is a junk shredder that will barely last a month. That is certainly not the case here.
You can think of this as a light version of the previous entries in this list. Like with the top three, the AmazonBasics 6-Sheet Cross-Cut shreds documents quickly and securely without the need to remove staples and paper clips. It can even shred credit cards (but not CDs), provided you insert them one at a time. This unit is the best budget choice when looking for something with more security than a strip-cut shredder.
On top of the shredder are three options you may be able to guess by now: Auto, Off, and Reverse. Even at such a low price, this shredder provides the manual reverse switch in order to make clearing paper jams as effortless as possible. Like it’s pricier brother, the Auto switch saves energy by only powering on the shredder when it detects that something has been inserted.
Of course, with budget constraints come expected limitations, and this one is no different. The 6-Sheet Cross-Cut can only be used for up to two minutes of continuous use before needing 30 minutes to cool down, making it suitable only for light use in a small business or home office. It also has the smallest bin, holding a maximum of 3.8 gallons. This basket does not slide out, either, but instead is cleared by removing the shredder. It is possible to use a bag to let the paper fall directly into, though, which makes cleaning a lot easier.
This is the smallest shredder on this list at 15″ H x 12.1″ W x 7.7″ D and also the lightest at only 8.2 pounds. However, it is also the loudest, with a noise level coming in at 70 decibels. It may not be able to handle the heavier loads that the top three can ease through, but the AmazonBasics 6-Sheet Cross-Cut is still a powerful shredder in its own right. And unless you actually need that extra strength, the price tag on this unit is an incredible value.
Before purchasing a paper shredder, you must ask yourself where it will be located and how many people will be using it. A shredder for your home office that only you will be using will not need to be as heavy-duty as the one required for a large office that multiple users would use throughout the workday. There are three main things to take into consideration: sheet capacity, shredding speed, and duty cycle.
The sheet capacity indicates how many papers you can feed into the shredder at one time. The shredding speed is how fast the papers can be fed into it. Duty cycle will tell you how long you can continuously use the shredder before it needs to cool down. Will two minutes be enough to shred some documents, or will you need a machine that can handle up to an hour of shredding?
There are varying levels of security, and choosing the right shredder will depend on how confidential you feel your documents are. The higher the level, the more difficult it will be for someone to piece the shredded paper back together again. Security Level P-2 provides a basic strip-cut security that shreds each paper into approximately 39 strips. P-3 and P-4 provides much more security, cross-cutting each into approximately 300 to 400 strips. And for the best security, level P-5 micro-cuts each page into approximately 3000 particles.
With the exception of the AmazonBasics 12-Sheet High-Security shredder, each unit on this list provides the cross-cut P-3 and P-4 levels of security. For most, this is good enough to deter your average dumpster-diving identity thief, but for those with highly sensitive information to destroy, level P-5 security is worth considering.
If you’re placing the shredder in your home and you have children, safety should be the top concern. Small, curious hands tend to stick their fingers in any opening they can find, and no one wants to encounter a shredder mishap. The Fellowes 99Ci is probably the safest option out there with its SafeSense Technology, which automatically stops when it detects a hand touching the paper entry, although other shredders provide their own safety features, as well. Look for units with blade guards, narrow slots, or shredders that are further than the paper entry.
Accidents can happen to people of any age, which is why a necktie being shredded has become a cliché now. Even if you don’t have kids, safety should always be one of the considerations when deciding on a paper shredder.
Will you want to shred more than just paper? Most newer models can handle shredding staples and paper clips along with each sheet, but not all of them can. For other items like credit cards, CDs, and junk mail, each unit has different specifications as to what it can and cannot shred. Some shredders have a different slot for credit cards and CDs, while others allow you to feed them into the main paper entry. If it doesn’t specify in the product description, don’t assume that the unit will shred anything you put into it.
Think about the types of things you will want to shred, and look for a shredder that can accommodate any extra needs beyond shredding paper.
Paper jams rank as the number one annoyance from people who regularly use paper shredders. They most often occur from overfeeding, mis-feeding, or fast feeding. Sometimes, even if a shredder is advertised as being able to handle multiple sheets at once, cutting that number in half can make things run much smoother. Things like folds, wrinkles, and creases can cause the paper to get stuck between the blades. And feeding more paper before the previous stack has finished can clog things up.
Look for shredders that advertise some kind of jam prevention technology, such as the Fellowes 99Ci’s 100% Jam Proof System, or the units that claim to have an auto-reverse feature. Even one with manual reverse can make things much easier than a unit without a reverse function.
Conclusion (Wrapping it up)
As you can see, there are many factors to take into consideration when choosing a paper shredder. It may seem overwhelming at first with so many options available on the market, but following the information on this list should lead you to a shredder you will be happy with for years to come. Whether your budget is big or small, there is a unit out there that will suit your needs, especially now that you know what to look for.
Above all, be sure on which features are most important to you. Not everyone needs a shredder that runs continuously for an hour and can shred CDs, so know what you do and do not need before springing more than you can afford on a unit that does it all.