Paper shredders are designed to keep sensitive information private when you discard it, making it nearly impossible for someone to piece it back together to find something that they shouldn’t. But if you’ve ever seen a detective show where they sift through piles of paper to reconstruct a sensitive document, you’ll know that some shredders make it difficult– but not necessarily impossible– for people to access your information.

That’s why paper shredders offer various levels of security. When you’re in the market to purchase or lease a shredder, you should carefully consider the level of security you require for your sensitive documents. There are 7 levels in total, and whichever shredder model you’re considering will let you know which security levels it offers.


Less Security

Shredder levels P-1 through P-3 are the lowest level of security; they’re probably what you picture when you think of shredded paper. They cut documents into strips. As the numbers get higher, the level of security also increases.

A P-1 level shredder cuts paper into strips that are less than half an inch in width, and when you reach P-3, the strips are much thinner– less than two millimeters wide! Documents that are shredded on lower security levels have a higher chance of being legible when reconstructed, so although these work fine for junk mail, you shouldn’t shred really sensitive or confidential information on a P-1 setting.


Medium Security

P-4 and P-5 take it a step further than the strip shredders, by cross-cutting documents. This is a pretty big leap in security from strip-cutting– a standard 8.5 x 11” sheet of copy paper will be cut into hundreds of particles.

Of course, a P-4 creates paper particles that are much bigger than a P-5, so factor that in when considering which shredder model will work best for your needs.


Maximum Security

P-6 and P-7 are the highest levels of shredder security. P-7 is approved for government usage, which means that it’s used for top-secret, confidential, and otherwise highly sensitive documents.

The P-6 setting shreds a single sheet of standard copy paper into thousands of particles. This shredding style is also referred to as “micro-cut”. Essentially, it turns your documents into confetti– except the particles are even smaller than standard confetti.

A shredder set to P-7 is the absolute highest level of paper shredder security you can get your hands on. This setting completely destroys documents– it’s statistically impossible to restructure a document that’s gone through a P-7 shredder. P-7 is the setting most likely to be used by government officials, which means that it’s the real deal.

Sending a document through a paper shredder set to P-7 will absolutely decimate it; it’s micro-cut into upwards of 15,000 particles for just a single sheet of standard copy paper.

Some industrial and higher-end commercial paper shredders can handle materials other than paper, like cardboard, CDs and DVDs. It’s important to note that a P-7 paper shredder will not be able to shred any material other than paper– but not to worry, even a CD that’s gone through a shredder set to P-1 will be destroyed and unusable.

If you’re not sure which type of shredder, or level of security, would be perfect for your office needs, we’re here to help. At Central Business Equipment, we’re happy to share our extensive knowledge about whatever office equipment you need, and will recommend the perfect model for you, along with a quote for leasing.

Give us a call or reach out for a quote today!