Posts Tagged ‘Shredder Security Levels’

How Many Particles are in a Shredded Document?

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

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



Protection Class 2



Protection Class 3



  • 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!

Overview of Paper Shredder Security Levels

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Paper ShreddersToday there are literally dozens of different brands of paper shredders and hundreds of different models. While there are a lot of factors to consider when purchasing a paper shredder, one option I recommend paying special attention to is the security level. The paper shredder’s security level will ultimately determine how safe and secure your shredded documents are.

Shredder security levels are based on a scale ranging from 1 to 6. This scale, excluding Level 6, is determined by DIN 32757. This is the European standard used for paper shredder security.  Security Level 6 requirements, established by the United States NSA, came out after DIN 32757 was created. Each of these security levels serve a purpose.

Security levels start off with 1, being the least secure, and end with 6, being the most secure. I will explain the pros and cons to each of these security Levels.

Paper Shredder Security Levels

Paper Shredder Security LevelsSecurity Level 1 – This level is the least secure and is rarely used for shredding sensitive information. It is typically used purely for shredding non-sensitive records or for creating padding or packaging material. This security level can be both strip cut or cross cut. These are the specific dimensions of DIN Security Level 1:

  • Strip Cut: 10.5-11.8mm
  • Cross Cut: 10.5mm x 40-80mm Cross Cut

Security Level 2 – This is the most common security level you will find in a strip cut paper shredder. This includes 1/8″ and ¼” strip cut shredders. It also includes some cross cut shredders that have larger cross cut particles. This can be used to shred a variety of material, and is hard to re-assemble, but is probably not enough security for most businesses. These are the dimensions of DIN Security Level 2:

  • Strip Cut: 3.9-5.8mm
  • Cross Cut: 7.5mm x 40-80mm

Security Level 3 – This security level is the most common used today by cross cut paper shredders in business. It is HIPAA and FACTA compliant and is good enough to shred client records, patient information, invoices, bills and other material. Material cut at a Level 3 is difficult to reassemble. This is the security level I recommend for most people. These are the dimensions of DIN Security Level 3:

  • Strip Cut: 1.9mm
  • Cross Cut: 3.9mm x 30-50mm

Security Level 4 – This is probably one of the least common security levels. It is more secure than Level 3, but not yet high enough to be considered high security. This is used by businesses and offices that want a little more security than the typical cross cut shredder, while still having a higher shred capacity than a high security shredder. These are the specifications of the DIN Security Level 4:

  • Cross Cut: 1.9mm x 15mm

Security Level 5 – Up until a few years ago this was the highest security level available and was used to shred all top-secret documents. While the Level 5 is still used to shred highly sensitive material, most government and military entities now use a Security Level 6. This security level is still commonly found and is still widely used. Particles cut at this level are near impossible to re-assemble. These are the dimensions of DIN Security Level 5:

  • Cross Cut: 0.78mm x 11mm

Security Level 6 – This is the highest security level available for a shredder. Paper cut by a Security Level 6 shredder almost looks like dust. A single sheet of letter-size paper is typically cut into 15,000+ particles. This security level is very popular for use with government and military. It is used by the U.S. Department of Defense, the NSA and many more agencies. These are the dimensions of the Security Level 6:

  • Cross Cut: 1mm x 4-5mm

Which Is Best?

The level you use will depend entirely upon what you are shredding. I can safely tell you that the Security Level 3 is considered by many experts to be the most well-rounded level for most individuals and businesses. A Security Level 3 has a good sheet capacity, can still cut paper into tiny particles and are affordable.

You can find our entire selection of paper shredders here. Please feel free to call us at 1-800-658-8788 with any questions about paper shredders.

Paper Shredder Security Levels Explained

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Shopping around for a paper shredder? If you are, no doubt you have seen shredders tagged with a security level. What is a shredder security level and which one is best for you? I will explain the different security levels here.

There are a total of six paper shredder security levels, with one being the lowest and least secure and six being the highest and most secure. The average person will normally not need anything above a security level three. Most businesses will never need anything above a security level four. Levels five and six are designed for the most secure and top secret documents.

The shredder security level system, except for level six, was designated by the Deutsches Institut für Normung (DIN). The DIN is the German national organization for standardization. The exact DIN label for shredding measurements is DIN 32757.  Security level six specifications were designated by the U.S. government.

Security Level Dimensions:

Level 1:

(10.5mm Strip Cut), (11.8mm Strip Cut), (10.5mm x 40-80mm Cross Cut)
(Approximately 3/8” x 1 ½-3 1/8” Cross Cut), (Approximately 3/8” Strip Cut)

Level 2:

(3.9mm Strip Cut), (5.8mm Strip Cut), (7.5mm x 40-80mm)
(Approximately 1/8” Strip Cut), (Approximately ¼” Strip Cut), (Approximately ½” x 9/16-2” Cross Cut), (Approximately ¼” x 9/16-2” Cross Cut)

Level 3:

(1.9mm Strip Cut), (3.9mm x 30-50mm Cross Cut)
(Approximately 1/16” Strip Cut), (Approximately 1/8” x 1 1/8-2” Cross Cut)

Level 4:

(1.9mm x 15mm Cross Cut)
(Approximately 1/6” x 9/16-5/8” Cross Cut)

Level 5:

(0.78mm x 11mm Cross Cut)
(Approximately 1/32” x 3/8-1/2” Cross Cut)

Level 6:

(1mm x 4-5mm)
(Approximately 1/32” x 5/32” Cross Cut)

You may find our entire selection of paper shredders here.

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