shredder : Computer Hardware Buyers’ Glossary

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Introduction Real World Shredders
Ways of Disposing of CDs/DVDs Links
Personal Shredders


A single CD contains 600 MB, the equivalent to 417 floppies, or 80 paper filing cabinets. A single DVD (Digital Video Disc) contains 4.7 GB, the equivalent to 3,264 floppies, or 560 paper filing cabinets. Even one password, embarrassing email or confidential information in the wrong hands could be quite painful. Before disposing of CDs or DVDs (Digital Video Discs), you want to make sure they are rendered unreadable by some sort of shredding process.

Be careful discarding DVDs. They may contain passwords, bank accounts, credit card info, identity theft info…

Ways of Disposing of CDs/DVDs

There are a number of ways of disposing of CDs (Compact Discs) and DVD s:

  1. Use rewritable CDs and DVRs (Digital Video Recorders). You recycle them by reformatting them. When you by them, mark them in a way that you can rapidly tell them apart from write-once discs.
  2. Use a $40.00 USD DVD destroyer. It perforates disc with numerous little holes, making a loud pop every time it destroys a CD (Compact Disc). There is an USB-powered one for $29.00 USD that breaks up the entire surface in 5 seconds.
  3. A $16.00 USD compact disc eraser will make a disc unreadable by deeply scoring it multiple times. I suspect the C.I.A. could extract data, but the discs will certainly not read in an ordinary player.
  4. A heavy duty shredder will destroy them. You might buy a heavy duty $200.00 CAD shredder from a stationery store and shred them one by one yourself and perhaps do a favour by shredding the DVDs and CDs from your friends and family. Wear safety glasses and gloves. CDs and DVDs are brittle and shatter into glass-like shards. The remains go to land fill. Recyclers accept whole discs only.
  5. You can ask a friend who owns a heavy duty shredder if you can use his.
  6. A pair of tin snips will cut them. This is tedious and hard or your hands if you do more than a dozen or so at a sitting. For extra safety, discard the remains into two different locations.
  7. You can incinerate them.
  8. I took my DVDs to the Island ReturnIt people. There were happy to accept them, but could not guarntee confidentiality. You had to leave them out in the open where any other customers could paw through them. Needless to say, I took them home with me.
  9. The Shred-it people will come to your house and pick them up for $150.00 CAD and incinerate them. That covers 6 banker’s boxes full. Shredding paper is cheaper. You get 15 boxes shredded for the same amount. Unfortunately their shedders don’t handle DVDs and CDs. You might consider collecting CDs and DVDs from others to make up the minimum amount and share the cost.
  10. CD Recycling center will recycle your discs for free by taking your old CDs and DVDs and turn them into clocks. They will scratch the surfaces of the CDs before making them into clocks.
  11. I am told you can melt them in a microwave, though I have never tried it and I won’t either. Who knows what fumes will come off them!
  12. Do not try to destroy a CD or DVD with a hammer. It will shatter like glass after the three layers separate.

Personal Shredders

One problem with personal shredders is they have a 2 to 9 minute continuous run time. Then you have to let them cool for 20 minutes. So you can’t do a giant batch all in one sitting. Most of them make you feed the discs in one at a time. Another problem is, after shredding, recyclers will not take them. A cheap paper-only shredder will not do. It must be heavy duty enough for DVDs.

They destroy the CD/DVD (Compact Disc/Digital Video Disc) in a variety of ways. The more secure techniques, that create smaller, more unreadable pieces, are near the end of the following list:

  1. punching little holes in it. The CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) could still read the bits of it without holes.
  2. Cutting it into 4 pieces.
  3. Strip-Cut: level 1 security: cuts into strips. It cuts a piece of paper into about 34 pieces.
  4. Cross-Cut: level 2 security: cuts into diamond shapes. It cuts a piece of paper into about 300 pieces.
  5. Micro-Cut: level 3 security: cuts into confetti. It cuts a piece of paper into about 3,770 pieces, for highly confidential documents.
  6. Government Approved: level 4 security: cuts into 0.08 × 0.48 cm (0.03 × 0.19 in) resulting in more than 15,000 particles. For destroying top secret and classified documents, high-security shredders have a cut size.

The finer the cut, the slower the device and the more heat and noise it generates, the more power it consumes, but the more secure the result.

A strip cut shredder, level 1, will provide basic security. Strip cut shreds are typically a 7/32? of an inch wide and as long as the document being shredded. This means that an 8 ?? x 11? sheet of paper will be shredded into approximately 39 particles or strips.(click image below for demo) Shred Type - Strip-Cut - Micro-Cut - Cross-Cut With cross cut shredders (Level 2), paper becomes extremely difficult to assemble and read. Standard cross cut shreds are typically 5/32? x 2?. So an 8 ?? x 11? sheet of paper will be shredded into approximately 300 particles. That?s a significant increase from the strip cut shredder, providing you with very strong security. If you are shredding highly confidential documents and you desire an even higher level of security, then you should consider a level 3, micro-cut shredder. A standard cut size for a micro-cut shredder is 5/64?x5/16?. This means that shredding an 8 ?? x 11? sheet of paper with a micro-cut shredder will result in more than 3,700 particles. Government approved high-security shredders provide the highest level of protection. Created for destroying top secret and classified documents, high-security shredders have a 1/32? x 3/16? cut size. This means that shredding a 8 ?? x 11? sheet of paper will result in more than 15,000 particles

Shopping for Shredders

14 ways to manually destroy a few CD/DVDs
CD Recycling center
Compact Disc Eraser
Island ReturnIt: free CD/DVD disposal Vancouver Island
London Drugs Recycling
Recall: shredding CDs and DVDs for business
Return-It: recycling old computers, monitors, TVs,
Shred-it: incinerating CDs and DVDs for business
Wikipedia on shredders

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