How Many Particles are in a Shredded Document?

Paper Shredder Security LevelsHave you ever wondered how many pieces of paper your document is cut up into when run through a shredder? You might be surprised. I know I was when I first found out. In this article I would like to cover the different security levels and just how much difference there is from one particle size to another. I would also like to provide you with some pictures on just how different one level is to another. You can find our paper shredders here.

Modern paper shredders are broken up into six different security levels with Security Level 1 being the least secure and Security Level 6 being the most secure. This scale was originally based on DIN 32757 specifications. This has since been updated with DIN 66399, which I will cover later in this article.

So here are the size requirements for DIN 32757 security levels, which is what all US paper shredders are currently classified under:

DIN 32757 Shredder Security LevelsSecurity Level 1:
(10.5mm Strip Cut)
(11.8mm Strip Cut)
(10.5mm x 40-80mm Cross Cut)

Security Level 2:
(3.9mm Strip Cut)
(5.8mm Strip Cut)
(7.5mm x 40-80mm)

Security Level 3:
(1.9mm Strip Cut)
(3.9mm x 30-50mm Cross Cut)

Security Level 4:
(1.9mm x 15mm Cross Cut)

Security Level 5:
(0.78mm x 11mm Cross Cut)

Security Level 6:
(1mm x 4-5mm)

As you can see, the higher the shredder security level, the smaller the particle size is. While these may seem like minor adjustments in particle size, each increase in security level equals a huge increase in total particles. I have taken the smallest size requirements for each of these six security levels and have broken them up into particle sizes based on a single sheet of 8 ½” x 11″ letter-size paper. Just look at how many more particles you get as the level goes up:

  • Security Level 1: 166 Particles
  • Security Level 2: 237 Particles
  • Security Level 3: 667 Particles
  • Security Level 4: 2,660 Particles
  • Security Level 5: 7,991 Particles
  • Security Level 6: 19,148 Particles

Obviously the more particles the harder the material is to read or re-assemble. Many people ask me which security level is needed for a typical business. I recommend a Security Level 3 for most businesses. This seems to provide adequate capacity and security. Keep in mind, the more particles the lower your capacity as this creates more strain on the shredder. If you don’t mind taking a small cut in capacity, a Security Level 4 (aka Micro Cut) isn’t a bad option either.

DIN 66399 Shredder Specifications

As mentioned earlier, the DIN 32757 has been superseded by the DIN 66399. DINE 66399 has 7 security levels divided into three protection classes. As of this article (May 2013), I have yet to see any manufacturers using the new DIN 66399 to label their shredders in the USA. The biggest reason for the change in DIN standard is due to the changing world in which we live. Many people are now shredding optical discs (CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays), credit cards, film rolls, hard drives, USB drives, flash memory and much more.

DIN 66399 is broken up like this:

Security levels:
Protection Class 1

2

3

Protection Class 2

4

5

Protection Class 3

6

7

  • Security Level 1: General documents to be rendered illegible or invalidated.
  • Security Level 2: Internal documents to be rendered illegible or invalidated.
  • Security Level 3: Data media with sensitive and confidential data as well as personal data subject to high
    protection requirements.
  • Security Level 4: Data media with highly sensitive and confidential data as well as personal data subject to
    high protection requirements.
  • Security Level 5: Data media with confidential information of fundamental importance for a person, company
    or institution.
  • Security Level 6: Data media with confidential documents in the case of extraordinary security precautions.
  • Security Level 7: For strictly confidential data with the highest security precautions.

DIN66399 consists of 6 data media types. These are P (paper), O (optical data), T (magnetic media), E (electronic data), F (information in reduced form) and H (hard drives).

Data media P, which is paper, has these Security Level Specifications with DIN66399:

  • P-1: Max strip width of 12mm
  • P-2: Max strip width of 6mm
  • P-3: Max particle size of 320mm squared.
  • P-4: Max particle size of 160mm squared.
  • P-5: Max particle size of 30mm squared.
  • P-6: Max particle size of 10mm squared.
  • P-7: Max particle size of 5mm squared.

DIN 66399 Shredder Particle Size Specifications

At ABC Office, you can find our entire selection of paper shredders here.  We have decades of experience with paper shredders and would love to help point you in the right direction. Our Specialists are knowledgeable and won’t try to push you into a sale.

I hope you have found this article helpful. Please feel free to post your thoughts on this article in the form of a comment. Have a great day!

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