Low-Tech Shredding: Simple Security For a Small Investment

I’ve harped on how high-tech security for your small business is a big deal. But not all thieves are tech-oriented hackers getting into your computers, stealing your secrets.

There’s not much high-tech about jumping into a dumpster and sifting through the garbage to find nuggets of information. The fact that garbage is disgusting and normal people wouldn’t immerse themselves in it is exactly the reason why someone out there would do it just to find one sheet of paper with an account number or Social Security Number on it. It happens often. In 2010, it was reported that more than a quarter of a million Americans had their ID stolen. Shredding documents is a simple solution to save you from this possibility.

A basic six-sheet shredder costs only about $25-30 from most office supply outlets, so the price is right for your security. The down sides – no staples or paper clips; they might jam if you do stuff six pages into it at once (clearing a jam on an el-cheapo shredder is NOT fun); and having a couple hundred pages to shred means working for a while to get the job done. Shredding will help secure your information, but with a lower-end model, it’ll impact your time and productivity significantly.

If any of that is an issue, consider investing in a more practical and functional shredding machine. What do you need to consider? Two things:

  • Cost. What’s your budget like? A simple question with no simple answer. The costs of identity theft for your customers and your business, though, could be in the stratosphere compared to what one of these things cost. A higher-end model can go from $250 anywhere up to a couple of thousand dollars.
  • Capacity. This is related to cost – the more paper it takes, the more it’ll cost. Again, it’s a question of productivity and what your time is worth; no matter how much fun it is to shred, it will get boring fast. Do you just want to plop it in there and forget about it? Some can take up to 500 pages, including staples and paperclips, too. For most, you’ll have to manually pull the staples out and remove paperclips, though.

Here’s a pretty cool little shredder by Swingline, the same company that makes the awesome red staplers (made famous by ‘Milton’ from the movie Office Space). I say ‘pretty cool’ because they make a couple of models that you just put your stack into and it does all the work – paper clips and staples and all. They also have a PIN combination that lets you secure the lid until the job is done.  Better yet, it will shred CDs and credit cards, which are both a major pain to destroy. The 250X model will do 250 pages at a time, while the 500X will do…wait for it…500 pages.

There’s other models, of course, and other companies, and a wide range of features and costs. But even an inexpensive model is worth its weight in information-protection gold.

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Michael Eckenfels

Michael is a writer and instructional designer, having worked in both fields for over a decade. He has had extensive corporate and freelance experience with a variety of business fields, including oil and gas, finance, health care, entertainment, and computer software. Michael is also an actor, having been in a wide variety of stage, series, and films over the last three years.

5 thoughts on “Low-Tech Shredding: Simple Security For a Small Investment

      • Frank Woodman Jr

        We found some help when we got a local bird breeder to start using our shredded paper on the floor of their cages. It makes great material for catching droppings. Now we just bag it and he comes make it disappear. So not easy to keep all the mess down but not having to take it to the dumpster sure helps.

  1. Frank Woodman Jr

    Often it’s the simplest and cheapest measures are the one’s that are over looked.

    Sadly paper shredding is one of those easily over looked. And even BUYING a shredder doesn’t equal USING a shredder. So be sure when you get one that it’s used on everything or else stuff still gets through to the trash.
    In our office every single piece of paper is shredded!
    No exceptions, no sorting, no excuses, taken together equal no leaks. That’s not an easy policy to implement but it’s certainly one that’s necessary or slowly people quite shredding and no one notices.

    Remember like everything else people will always try to cut out the little tasks that they hate no matter how necessary they are and paper shredding sure fits that bill.


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