File destruction is pretty simple on the face of it. You shred a document with sensitive information, so someone else can’t then access it illicitly. But it’s surprisingly easy to get wrong, especially in an office environment. Here are some of the most common approaches to office file destruction, along with their pros and cons.

Three Approaches to File Destruction

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On-Desk Shredders

Some companies choose to purchase ‘desk shredders’ for all their staff, or a few shredders to be shared throughout the office. There’s a logic to this: staff are more likely to use a file destruction tool that’s easy to access, for example. However, even aside from the up-front cost, this approach has its downsides. Unless you’re investing in high-spec equipment, a compact desk shredder won’t destroy files as completely as a bigger piece of kit. This increases the risk of a person piecing a document together again, and accessing data illicitly. Your office manager will also spend a lot of time fixing the various machines throughout the office.

Pros: Ease of use.

Cons: Up-front cost, less complete file destruction, ongoing maintenance.

A Single Shredder

A more common approach is to purchase a single shredder for the office. In most cases, you’ll get more bang for your buck this way, and a single large shredder will do a fine job of document destruction. This, and a central location for storing shredded paper, helps to alleviate the risks involved. However, it also creates a single point of failure: if your machine breaks, nobody can destroy sensitive documents. Those files – and the attendant data risks – will pile up quickly. If you choose this option, therefore, ensure that you can fix or replace your machine at short notice.

Pros: Better security, low up-front cost.

Cons: Single point of failure, higher cost in case of breakdown.

Document lockers

Most businesses want to do file destruction correctly. But many don’t fancy the hassle of running an enterprise level shredding operation. If you’d rather have a service provider handle file destruction, portable ‘lockers’ for secure destruction allow you to do this safely and conveniently.

It works like this: you pay a low rental fee for the locker. Staff can then put documents with sensitive or personal data into it, so files are kept away from prying eyes. When the locker is full, or at a pre-arranged time, a service provider comes to pick it up and destroy it with maximum security.

Pros: High security, minimal hassle.

Cons: Ongoing (but low) cost.

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