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rory's avatar

Is it a better idea to buy a home shredder? Or use a service?

Asked by rory (1392points) August 13th, 2014

I’m sorting, scanning, and purging old documents for my mom’s law practice. She’s having me look into how to destroy the already massive pile of papers that have accumulated. Here’s a picture of what I’m dealing with so far—edited for security.

I’ve contacted several shredding services for quotes, but no one has gotten back to me thus far. I’ve also done some research on home shredders and it looks like Staples is having a sale.

From what I’ve heard, home shredders are fickle, but would using one be cheaper than calling a service? This pile isn’t even half of what is to come when this project is finished.

EDIT: I live in NYC, if this helps with suggestions.

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10 Answers

syz's avatar

I have found that home shredders overheat very quickly if you’re dealing with any sort of volume at all (unless you upgrade to a pretty expensive business model. I bought this one for work and it lasted a year or so before it died an inglorious death). I’ve had two home models so far, and they both also has a tendency to jam if I got impatient and fed too many at once.

My city provides quarterly free shredding services, no questions asked. It might be worth looking into whether there’s anything like that available.

edit: Ah, well, you missed the Shred Fest date.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Since you are in the USA, check into the shredding services provided by the local UPS office. Link

It all comes down to the question of: “Do you want quality, timely or cost-effective?” Pick two.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

That depends on time, if I had the time I would shred as I went. If I did not have time, I would use a service, but more likely I would go with option ‘C’; large BBQ, some kerosene, and some wooden matches, I bet it would go up so fast no one would hardly know what happened.

rory's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer, I called the UPS office, but it’s $3 a pound, which seems like it would get expensive quickly.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Do you have a friend with a wood burning stove? 20 pounds of paper has the same heating value as a gallon of heating oil currently selling for $3.50 per gallon! I gladly burn bags of shredded paper that comes from my neighbor, relatives and work. Perfect recycling and it is free!

When we had to dispose of hundreds of pounds worth (about a dozen long bankers boxes) we called a service. If I recall it was something like $5—$8? per box. It broke my heart to see them paying for something that would heat my home for weeks for free!

(I am in Western NY)

rory's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central and @LuckyGuy, unfortunately I live in the middle of a big city, where wood burning stoves aren’t really a thing most places. And at this point, the sheer volume of paper would make it really difficult to transport it to my friends upstate who DO have a woodburning stove.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Home shredders do overheat quickly.

You might look at renting a business-grade shredder (like the banks use) for a month or two. Business grade shredders are built to have long on-off cycles and won’t have the same problems as a home shredder does.

But if I were in your shoes, I’d opt for the service (if they call you back) – lss hassle all around, even if there is some extra cost.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@rory That is too bad. It is a shame to waste combustibles.

The service was pretty cheap and they did not have to shred anything. The papers had to go into banker’s boxes so they could estimate how many feet of paper they needed to pick up. It was something like $2 or $3 per foot. I really don’t remember.
I’d go that route.

kritiper's avatar

It is better and cheaper to use your fireplace or burn them in a a 5-gallon steel bucket with holes punched along the bottom.

jaytkay's avatar

I had this problem and called a service that sent a shredder on a truck. It wasn’t terribly expensive ($100 or $200 I think) and considering the time savings it was much cheaper than using a small office shredder.

The same place had a store front drop-off service which was less expensive. But the attorney I was working with wanted to see the shredding performed to assure it was legit.

Regarding the services that don’t call back – I discovered that shredding is like locksmithing – bogus companies put up good-looking web sites and buy local phone numbers, but they are actually distan call centers with no facilities near you. If they feel like responding they will hire a real local company and charge a huge fee, far above the real shredder’s cost.

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