Whether you’re working from home or in the office, you’ll always have to get rid of paperwork that you’ll no longer need. Especially when they’re important files, it’s better that you don’t just tear them up a few times and throw them in the trash. To protect important information even when it makes it to the garbage, you’ll need a shredder. Shredders are one of those home products that you’ll need for your at-home office so that you’re able to dispose of paperwork more efficiently and effectively with the several different shredder security levels that they offer.
Different Kinds of Shredders
Before we talk about the various security levels of shredding, we have to discuss the two types of shredders that are available for your choosing.
- Strip-cut shredders – also known as ribbon-cut shredders, this product is known for its thinly cut strips of paper. The strips can vary in size from 12mm wide to 2mm wide. This kind of shredder requires less cutting compared to cross-cut shredders, and because of this, the strip-cut shredders are able to shred more documents at a time than cross-cut shredders.
- Cross-cut shredders – also known as the confetti-cut shredder, this product creates small particles of paper that vary in size from 1mm x 5mm to 10mm x 80mm. Due to the size that the shredder is cutting down the paper to, it is not as quick to shred documents as the strip-cut shredder. But because of the micro-cuts, cross-cut shredders provide more security to shredded documents.
The Six Shredder Security Levels
The security level options of shredders are fairly easy to categorize, as they go from a P2 to a P7. This would mean that P2 offers the lowest amount of shredder security as opposed to P7 offering the highest security.
As mentioned before, this security level offers the least amount of shredder security, but can shred documents super fast which allows you to dispose of unneeded documents quicker. Although the security level may be low, this is way more preferable than tearing up your documents on your own by using your hands or a nearby scissor. Usually offered by strip-cut shredders, they are less expensive and protect your information given the thin strips of paper that result from choosing this security level.
Please note that P2 shredders can still carry risks because of the shred sizes and the amount of sensitive information that could still be legible on the strips of paper. Due to this, P2 shredders are the best for general or personal shredding purposes, such as keeping it in your home or office to keep them clean.
P3 and P4
These two levels of shredding are for more important documents, as you will see them a lot in office buildings because of the shredding intensity and volume that is needed. More suited for mildly confidential paperwork, P3 shredders are either strip-cut or cross-cut while P4 shredders are primarily cross-cut. Note that P3 shredders are the only kinds of strip-cutters that comply with HIPAA and FACTA requirements, given that this setting produces small enough shreds.
P4 is a slight upgrade from a security level of P3 due to its cross-cutting shreds which makes it mostly impossible to assemble the original document. In general with these two security levels, it would be difficult to reproduce the original document from the strips of paper that result from shredding without the proper equipment. This would mean that you can have much more confidence that your documents have been destroyed while using these levels of shredding security.
At level P5, you are reaching government usage, meaning that government officials and organizations are confident enough to choose this security level to dispose of confidential paperwork so that the information is never leaked. But as we approach the higher shredder security levels, the smaller the paper particle that is a result of shredding, the lower the productivity of the machine. What this means is that shredders that yield to these higher security levels are not for high volume shred jobs.
At this security level, the paper is cut down into particles that are less than 1/64 of an inch. This level of shredding is usually used by government agencies such as the CIA and the Department of Defense because they can destroy files without the risk of someone stealing, reusing or recreating the information. Ideal for these kinds of security-conscious organizations, the P6 security level is still slow, so it’s preferable not to burden it with high volume shred jobs either.
As the last shredding security level, P7 cuts paper down to half the size of what P6 would do, so it is highly impossible for someone to recreate the original document after using this shred security. NSA approved, the P7 shredding security level complies with their classified and confidential destruction regulations. But as you may have noticed, the higher the security shredding level, the slower that it will shred. This means that P7 is only capable of handling ten sheets of paper at most to ensure that highly confidential documents are completely and irrevocably destroyed.
Now that you’re aware of and informed about the different security levels of shredding that are available to you, it’s a matter of figuring out which one is the right one for you. Some people would say that the best home shredders are those that shred your documents just enough so that they’re illegible by outside parties. Others will say that they would feel more comfortable if it was impossible for others to piece together the documents that they’ve shredded. Either way, it’s important to choose a shredding unit that fits within your budget and fulfills your needs.
Written by Julia Batista