Asking the right questions when buying a shredder

December 10, 2013 at 2:02 pm by SEM

How many times have you walked into a store looking for a particular item only to find too many varieties? For instance, you need a particular pencil for a certain project you are working on; you aren’t sure if a mechanical pencil or an old fashioned number 2 pencil will work. Or, If you decide to go into a car dealer to buy a new vehicle you may have several questions to ask the salesman. You will want to do your research to decide what type of vehicle to purchase and what questions to ask. Buying a shredder can be similar so you should know which questions to ask.

The first question to ask is; what kind of shredder do I need to meet my security requirements? See SEM Pocket Reference Guide for some ways to determine your needs.

There are basically three different kinds of shredders. All three produce different shred sizes.

The first is a basic STRIP-CUT shredder. It will shred the paper into strips that
are usually the length of the paper shredding. The second is a cross-cut which
further cuts the strips into smaller particles. The question to ask here is;
how secure do I want to shred my information? A strip cut shredder will cut
the paper into usually ¼ inch or wider strips by the length of the paper.
These can be easily put back together. Will these strips give you enough
security? If not then:

A CROSS-CUT shredder (SEM Cross Cut Paper Shredder) will further cut the
paper-length strips into smaller strips ( i.e. 1/4” by 1-7/8” ). While still
possible to reconstruct the paper, it is highly unlikely. Again ask yourself…..Will
this give me enough security? If not then:

A HIGH SECURITY CROSS-CUT shredder is regulated by the National Security
Agency (NSA) to shred particles no larger than 1 x 5 millimeters in size. This is
basically the size of a pencil mark. These particles have been determined by
the NSA to be terminal destruction. This means they can’t be reconstructed
by any method in any way SEM Level Six High Security Shredders.

Many questions should come to you when thinking about purchasing a shredder.
You should do your “homework” in order to know exactly what questions to ask your security professional before buying a shredder. We at SEM are ready to answer any questions and are the security professionals and have been for over 45 years.
For more information, visit the SEM web site at

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