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Q: How do I shred sensitive data files?

Shredding Your Own Documents

If you want to do your own secure shredding, at a minimum you need a 'cross-cut' shredder (also called 'confetti cut,' 'diamond cut,' 'micro cut'). Such shredders generate small pieces of paper vs. strips, since strips of paper can, in theory, be reassembled and reveal their secrets. For most MIT business documents, cross cut shredded paper is sufficiently secure that it can be put in MIT's paper recycling bins.

Before spending more than $200 on a shredder, consider one of the shredding services listed below - the service may actually be more cost effective.

Cross-Cut Shredders

Fellowes makes a number of shredders including 'personal' (which can also work well in offices with low volume shredding requirements) and 'small office.' Fellowes personal shredders can sometimes be found in retail stores (e.g. Costco) for under $100. Here are 3 shredders from the Staples catalog (prices reflect MIT discount):

If you want to compare these or other models, consider using the Staples 'compare selected' function on their web page. For those with purchasing authorization, you can place an order through Ecat.

Shredder Bins

Having a locked container means materials can be disposed of immediately, vs. lying around until someone has time to do the shredding. A shredder bin is also quiet, with no shredder maintenance or mess of paper shreds, and you do not need to remove paper clips, or other binding. Bins typically come in 3 sizes:

  • 36" Lockable Executive Console - Dimensions: 36"H x 19"D x 19"W; Capacity - 100 lbs; putty colored (for 'front office' environment)
  • 64 Gallon Lockable Bin with wheels - Dimensions: 42.25"H x 29.25"D x 22.5"W; Capacity - 225 lbs
  • 95 Gallon Lockable Bin with wheels - Dimensions: 46"H x 34"D x 26.5"W'; Capacity - 350 lbs

Using a Shredding Service

If you have routine shredding needs, particularly of multiple page documents, a shredding service is strongly recommended. The typical company will provide locked containers free of charge, which you can fill with paper or mixed media (paper, binders, CDs, VHS tapes, etc). They charge when they take the bin away (and give you an empty one.) You should also receive a certificate stating that they will securely destroy materials.

Use vendors who are National Association for Information Destruction (NAID) certified. At a minimum, you want to ensure the vendor is using enclosed trucks (so paper can’t fly out) and trucks are taken to a secure paper shredding facility (and not taken to local paper recycling center, where office paper may be bundled and resold as scrap paper – unshredded.)
Some companies offer onsite shredding. This is generally more expensive (the trucks are a major investment), and generally no more secure than offsite services that follow NAID standards. But they do offer the visceral satisfaction of seeing your material destroyed.

The preferred vendor below follows NAID standards, and accepts MIT procurement card for payment:

Vendor Services Pricing
Tel: 603.595.2033 or 800.762.6725 (Customer Service)
Contact: Thomas Wood
Please visit VPF website for current MIT Representative

Paper shredding. Done off-site.

Mixed Media and e-Waste. May accept mixed media (e.g. CDs) in same bin as paper.

Provides onsite hard-drive shredding.
$33 minimum for paper shredding

$100 minimum for hard drive destruction

Further information can be found on the MIT Procurement site.

For ongoing services this vendor provides a bin at no charge, and will charge when the bin is emptied. This service includes shredding accumulated boxes of materials. Note, however, that boxes of confidential material sitting around constitute a potential risk of data loss – it is generally safer to securely dispose of sensitive information as soon as it is no longer needed.

IS&T Contributions

Documentation and information provided by IS&T staff members

Last Modified:

July 08, 2022

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