How to find the right document shredder
Cut material, cutting capacity, protection class, security level, collection capacity... when you're facing the task of finding the right document shredder, the large range of products on offer and all the different functions and features might end up giving you a headache. After all, a file isn't just a file, and data protection hasn't only just become a top priority at most companies since the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was implemented.
Fortunately, we're here to help! We've put thought into finding a solution that will hopefully keep your head from hurting. This solution comes, on the one hand, in the form of our Questions & Answers on GDPR implementation, in which you'll find many tips and some background information. And on the other hand, it comes in the form of this purchasing guide, which explains the three most important criteria – along with a few others – that you need to consider when selecting a document shredder: 1) Work environment, 2) Protection classes and security levels and 3) Performance. Let's make a start!
1. In which work environment will your document shredder be used?
Let's start with something simple: the collection capacity. In other words, how many strips of paper and how many particles your document shredder can hold before it needs to be emptied. Therefore, the more people who are using your new document shredder, the greater the collection capacity should be – unless you want to hear your colleagues complain about the document shredder being full again daily. We have compiled an overview of the most typical situations to help you out.
- For 1 – 3 people
- Collection capacity up to 25 litres
- For use directly at the workplace, for small offices or private use
- Occasional use
- For 4 – 8 people
- Collection capacity up to 85 litres
- Regular use
- For 9 people or more
- Collection capacity 86 litres and higher
- For open-plan offices or an entire level
- Continuous operation
- Collection capacity 290 l and higher
- Also for shredding digital data carriers
- For continuous use
2. How confidential are the documents that you wish to shred?
Protection classes and security levels might initially sound rather complicated. But don't worry: it's actually quite straightforward. Especially once you've understood that it's actually only a matter of how confidential the documents are that you wish to shred. Or, to make it simpler, think of it this way: a simple entry level model is sufficient for unimportant documents, while the latest, highly confidential sales figures compiled by the board of management might be better off with one of the professional models...
2.1 Protection classes
Protection class 1: normal security requirements for internal data
For information that is intended, and is accessible, for larger groups of people. Unauthorised disclosure would only have a limited negative effect on the company. Protection of personal data must, however, be guaranteed. Examples: correspondence that does not reveal any know-how, catalogues, circulars, notes, etc.
Protection class 2: high security requirements for confidential data
For information that is limited to a small group of people. Unauthorised circulation would have significant consequences for the company and might violate contractual obligations or legal requirements. The protection of personal data must satisfy strict requirements. Examples: correspondence that contains know-how, such as offers, enquiries, memos, notices, personal data, etc.
Protection class 3: very high security requirements for particularly confidential and sensitive data
For information that is limited to a small group of people identified by name who have been granted access rights. Unauthorised circulation would have serious consequences for the company that could threaten its livelihood, and would violate expectations of professional secrecy, contracts and legal requirements. The protection of personal data must be ensured without reserve. Examples: documents for company management, R&D documents, financial data, classified data, etc.
2.2 Security levels
When it comes to document shredders, security levels are primarily based on the different types of cut. And the following applies: the smaller the strip width or the smaller the particle size, the higher the security level.
- Shreds your documents into simple strips.
- Generally used for entry level models.
- Maximum security level that can be reached: 2.
- Generally compliant with security level 3.
- Suitable to make sensitive data unrecognisable.
- Compliant with security level 4 and higher (micro particle cut).
- The best choice by far when sensitive data need to be destroyed for ever.
Security level P-1
- General data
- Reproduction of document possible with little effort
Security level P-2
- Internal data
- Reproduction of document possible with careful effort
Security level P-3
- Sensitive data
- Reproduction of document possible with considerable effort
Security level P-4
- Particularly sensitive data
- Reproduction of document possible with extraordinary effort
Security level P-5
- Data to be kept secret
- Reproduction of document possible with dubious methods
Security level P-6
- Confidential, high-security data
- Reproduction of document not technically possible
Security level P-7
- Highly confidential, high-security data
- Reproduction of document not possible
If data with different security levels needs shredding, then dividing the data up into the different security levels in order to shred them is recommended. If this is not possible, then by principle, the documents must be uniformly shredded in accordance with the higher security level in order to minimise any risk of insufficient shredding. Or, to put it more simply: If in doubt, select a higher protection class and security level!
Only document shredders with particle type cut and security level 4 or higher satisfy the criteria specified in the GDPR on shredding personal data. More information can be found in our Questions & Answers on GDPR Implementation.
2.3 Allocation of the security levels to the protection classes
The following table can be used to allocate the three protection classes to the security levels:
- Protection class 1: security level 1 (*), 2, 3, 4 (**), 5 (**), 6 (**), 7 (**)
- Protection class 2: security level 3, 4, 5, 6 (**), 7 (**)
- Protection class 3: security level 4, 5, 6, 7
(*) This combination cannot be used for personal information.
(**) A higher security level better covers the protection class.
3. What performance capacity does your document shredder need to have?
To finish off, here's some more easy-to-grasp information: along with the collection capacity and the cut size, document shredders are also distinguished according to how many sheets can be simultaneously shredded. The specifications always refer to 80 g/m² paper with an A4 format. We have all sorts of different models in our product range that can shred from four sheets to 60 sheets and more at the same time. Have a think about how many documents that need shredding and that you have piling up on average – and how much time you wish to spend shredding them every day...
And the product of 3, 2 and 1? Our product finder!
Now that you know all about the most important criteria to observe when selecting a document shredder, the next step is the easiest one by far: simply click in our product finder, answer three short questions on the topic areas we covered beforehand – and you're done. We have already structured our large range of document shredders so that suitable models will be suggested for all possible combinations of answers. It couldn't be more convenient – we promise!
Other functions and selection criteria
Material classifications and types of data carriers
That document shredders are suitable for shredding and destroying paper documents is self-evident. There are, however, a number of other materials that we have listed for you in the following. Each material class has been given a code that forms a prefix to the security level – as in, for example, P4 or O3. This combination allows you to immediately identify the intended purpose that the respective model is suitable for.
- P paper products
- F information in a compact form such as film, microfiche, etc.
- O optical data carriers such as CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray, etc.
- T magnetic data carriers such as disks, ID cards, magnetic strips and cassettes, etc.
- H hard discs with magnetic data carriers, laptops and external hard discs
- E electronic data carriers such as memory sticks, hard drives and mobile telephones
Tip: use the filter criteria on the left in our range of document shredders, and use the filter “cut material” to narrow down the choice, e.g. to factors such as “credit cards” or “CDs/DVDs”.
Some of our document shredders are real “gluttons” indeed. They can shred paper by the stack, and can do this without you having to help them. Apart from pressing a button. You simply feed all of the material for shredding into the document shredder, press the Start button – and your job is done. The unit automatically draws in all the stacks of paper one after the other, shreds them – and frees up your time, so you can use it for more productive activities.
Additional functions such as metal detection or overheating protection
A number of document shredders also feature special additional functions that make operation even more convenient. These include, for example, an external automatic oiler, which keeps the cutting rollers moving smoothly during shredding, and therefore provide a uniformly high cutting capacity, or an OMDD cutting mechanism that can effortlessly shred media such as CDs/DVDs, customer cards and credit cards, along with discs, into minute particles (2 x 2 mm). Automatic overheating protection might also be worthwhile, especially if you use your document shredder frequently – after all, most models are not suitable for continuous use. High quality devices with this additional function will generally indicate how many documents they can still shred, or for how long you need to wait until the document shredder has become “cool” enough to keep working.
A metal detection function is also very practical – should you ever forget to remove a staple, then the device will start protesting straight away and temporarily suspend operation. This continues until you have removed the piece of metal.