What is an auto-feeding paper shredder?
An automatic feeding paper shredder is a slightly different take on the traditional paper shredder. It utilizes the same technology as a paper folding machine to pull documents from a stack and shred them without the user needing to feed it at all. Hypothetically, this could result in a shredder with a sheets-per-pass rating of 500+ pieces for only a couple thousand dollars. Auto-feeding shredders are also available on the low end, in smaller versions and with less capacity. The operator loads the paper into the feeder, closes it up, and walks away. The shredder does the rest.
Many of them have additional features like PIN locks, or the ability to sneak in a quick set of documents halfway through a bulk shred. Occasionally you'll also see automatic oilers and color touch screens. The technology is actually very neat!
Is this the future of paper shredding?
Maybe someday, but definitely not right now. Automatic feeding paper shredders tend to be relegated to a niche category, for several reasons:
- They are slow. In some cases, as slow as 20 sheets of paper per minute. If you loaded an entire auto-feeder with paper it would take 45 minutes to shred all of it - under ideal circumstances.
- They can be very picky. If you unwrapped a fresh ream of paper and loaded it into the feeder it would work flawlessly! But paper destined for shredding is never that perfect. The stack of papers can be of different sizes, might have paper clips, staples, consists of varying paper weights, and more. All of those conditions cause the machine to beep for user input to reset the shredder, and/or to resume shredding.
- If you have sensitive documents that need to be securely shredded, leaving those documents unattended can be a big concern.
- Some auto-feed document shredders boast a PIN code for added security. It’s a great idea in principle, but it does slow down the process even more - requiring the user to make repeated trips to the shredder to clear jams.
- A good German-made paper shredder is a 25+ year solution. The auto-feeder technology has a much shorter lifespan - closer to the 4-6 year range - with the later years being especially frustrating as the reliability decreases.
- Auto-feed shredders use significantly more oil than their counterparts because it takes them so much more time to destroy the same amount of material.
- Finally auto-feed shredders are expensive, approximately double the price of a classic document shredder.
Despite the drawbacks, isn't this still better than standing in front of a paper shredder for hours at a time?
Mobile destruction companies and auto-feed shredder manufacturers like to sell the idea that employee time is wasted standing at a shredder. A very basic mid-range office shredder can destroy 25 sheets in a single pass, and is capable of running 12 passes per minute. That equals 300 sheets of paper in a single minute. That is 700% faster than the fastest auto-feed shredder on the market.
Auto-feed document shredders are a solution in search of a problem.
Are there any circumstances at all where you would recommend an auto-feed shredder?
If someone has large, perfect stacks of paper to be destroyed, it could be a slow but hands-off way to get the job done.
For the overwhelming majority of people and use-cases, we recommend manual feed paper shredders.
If auto-feeding shredders are so niche, why are they listed on your website?
Some people think it's the future of shredding, and as one of the largest shredder dealers in the United States we have to be sensitive to demand. With that said, our return rate on standard shredders is less than 1%, and our return rate on auto-feed shredders is about 30%. Auto-feed shredders are not the best solution for most people, but there are a select few people out there who could benefit from them in the short term.
With every quote request we share our opinions and recommendations, and with every order we explain the manufacturer's return policy. We would not stop someone from making a purchase, but we do make an effort to educate and consult them.
If you believe auto-feeding shredders are so poor, how come their reviews are so positive?
There are two reasons.
First, especially on larger websites, reviews are not properly audited for authenticity. A 2023 study by Fakespot found that 42% of online reviews were certifiably bogus and written by bots. When you consider additional bogus reviews coming from brushing scams, and people being given gift cards in exchange for five star reviews, that number is easily over 50%. The average Amazon product has a rating of 4.73 which is objectively impossible.
Second, almost all legitimate reviews are left within hours of first using a product. If you look below at the negative reviews for the best selling auto-feed shredder I could find, you'll see that most of them are written after several months of usage. It should be deeply concerning how negative the feedback is from the seasoned owners.
For a more fitting solution to your shredding needs, please see our all of our centralized office shredders.