DIN 66399 Paper Shredder Security Levels

10 September 2021 Shares

Home Paper Shredders DIN 66399 Paper Shredder Security Levels

By Recycling.com/ 10 September 2021 Shares

DIN 66399 Paper Shredder Security Levels

Which security level do you need for paper shredding?

When you are looking for a new shredder for home or at the office, you often see the security level of a paper shredder. For instance, P-2, P-3, or P-4. What does the security level mean, and why is it important to pay attention to it when buying a new shredder machine? On this page, we explain the shredder security levels.

strip-cut-cross-cut-micro-cut
Strip-Cut, Cross-Cut and Micro-Cut

Compare the different security levels

What is DIN 66399?

DIN standard - Deutsches Institut für NormungWhen you look at a paper shredder’s specifications, you often see the security level with a DIN classification next to it. For example, P-1 or P-3. But what does it mean? The DIN P-level is part of the official German DIN 66399 standard (since 2012), the international standard for secure shredding of data media developed by the Deutsches Institut für Normung (DIN), which translates to the German Institute for Standardization.

This DIN-norm contains destruction requirements for multiple media categories. Namely paper, film, optical media, magnetic data media, hard drives and electronic data media.

DIN 66399 (before DIN 32757) classifies the security levels for six media categories. Such as hard drives (H), optical media (O), and paper-based products (P). For paper, there are seven security levels. The levels range from P-1 to P-7. The higher the DIN level, the smaller the paper particles become after shredding a document.

The seven security levels are divided in three protection classes or categories. Some security levels overlap two protection classes:

Protection class 1

  • Normal security for internal data
  • Security level: DIN P-1, DIN P-2, DIN P-3
  • Low level of security

Protection class 2

  • High security for confidential data
  • Security level: DIN P-3, DIN P-4, DIN P-5
  • High level of security

Protection class 3

  • Very high protection for confidential and secret data
  • Security level: DIN P-4, DIN P-5, DIN P-6, DIN P-7
  • Very high level of security

We recommend a paper shredder that sits in protection category 2 with a P-3, P-4, or P-5 security level for most shredding needs. These shredders suffice most requirements for secure shredding of confidential documents.

micro-cut-cross-cut-shredder-particles
Micro-cut particles are barely readable compared to cross-cut shreds.

DIN P: The size of the particle

The security levels for paper shredders are part of the official DIN 66399 standard for paper destruction. This standard contains seven security levels for paper destruction, which indicates the minimal requirements for the paper particles’ size after shredding a document. The seven security levels are P-1, P-2, P-3, P-4, P-5, P-6, and P-7. The higher the number, the smaller the size of the particle gets.

Besides for paper, the P security level is also applicable for film and printing forms.

For instance, when you are looking for high security and want small particles, you are better off with a P-5 paper shredder than a P-2 paper shredder. That is because the paper particles from a P-5 micro-cut shredder are microscopic in comparison with the strips of a P-2 strip-cut shredder.

security-levels-strip-cross-micro-cut-shredder-visual

Want to visualize and compare the shred sizes? Our friends over at Intimus made a ‘Shred Size Visualizer’. This image shows you a clear comparison between the different DIN security levels. Did you know that a level 6/ P-7 paper shredder destroys a standard A4 document (8,5″x 11″ sheet) into 12,053 pieces? Quite amazing.

Particle size

Besides security levels, you can also find the cut type of paper shredders. All paper shredders are divided into three types of paper cuts. These are strip-cut, cross-cut, and micro-cut. Below you can see all the security levels from the German DIN 66399 standard for paper destruction:

  1. Strip-cut – Low level of security
  2. Cross-cut – Medium level of security
  3. Micro-cut – High level of security
what-level-of-security-fellowes-paper-shredders
Courtesy of Fellowes

Cross-cut and micro-cut

There is some confusion about the difference between a cross-cut or micro-cut shredder. Officially a micro-cut shredder is classified as a P-5, P-6, or P-7 shredder. But you will see that a lot of paper shredder manufacturers and stores classify a P-4 shredder as a micro-cut shredder as well. We see this for shredders that are offered in the US. Fellowes tells us that “the reason for this is that the term micro-cut is used on some P-4 Machines in the US, whereas in Europe it is only P-5.

Since it is very common that a P-4 shredder is called ‘micro-cut’ or ‘high security’, we also use this term for P-4 classified shredders.

A P-4 shredder offers more security than a P-3 shredder. Some P-4 shredders produce tiny paper particles after shredding a document, making the particles more ‘micro-cut’ than a P-3 cut. DIN 66399 states that a P-4 shredder should shred particles smaller than 320 mm² or 0.5 in².


Security Level DIN 66399: P-1
Strip-cut Paper Shredder

strip-cut-shredder-strips
  • DIN Protection Class: 1
  • Security rating: Very low
  • Strip size: < 2,000 mm² / 3.1 in²
  • Strip width: < 12 mm / 0.47 in
  • Strip length: Unlimited
  • After shredding an A4 document: 17.5 strips
  • After destruction the data can be easily reproduced.


Security Level DIN 66399: P-2
Strip-cut Paper Shredder

strip-cut-shredder-strips
  • DIN Protection Class: 1
  • Security rating: Very low
  • Strip size: < 800 mm² / 1.24 in²
  • Strip width: < 6 mm / 0.24 in
  • Strip length: Unlimited
  • After shredding an A4 document: 35 strips
  • After destruction the data can be reproduced with a certain degree of effort.


Security Level DIN 66399: P-3
Cross-cut Paper Shredder

cross-cut-shredder-particles
  • DIN Protection Class: 1 and 2
  • Security rating: Medium
  • Particle size: < 320 mm² / 0.5 in²
  • Particle width: < 2 mm / 0.08 in
  • After shredding an A4 document: 195+ particles
  • After destruction the data can be reproduced with considerable effort.


Security Level DIN 66399: P-4
Cross-cut / Micro-cut Paper Shredder

cross-cut-shredder-particles
  • DIN Protection Class: 2 and 3
  • Security rating: Medium
  • Particle size: < 160 mm² / 0.25 in²
  • Particle width: < 6 mm / 0.24 in
  • After shredding an A4 document: 390+ particles
  • After destruction the data can be reproduced with the use of special recovery devices.


Security Level DIN 66399: P-5
Micro-cut Paper Shredder

micro-cut-shredder-particles
  • DIN Protection Class: 2 and 3
  • Security rating: High
  • Particle size: < 30 mm² / 0.05 in²
  • Particle width: < 2 mm / 0.08 in
  • After shredding an A4 document: 2,079+ particles
  • After destruction the data is unlikely to be reproduced.


Security Level DIN 66399: P-6
Micro-cut Paper Shredder

micro-cut-shredder-particles
  • DIN Protection Class: 3
  • Security rating: Very high
  • Particle size: < 10 mm² / 0.02 in²
  • Particle width: < 1 mm / 0.04 in
  • After shredding an A4 document: 6,237+ particles
  • After destruction the data is impossible to reproduce.


Security Level DIN 66399: P-7
Micro-cut Paper Shredder

micro-cut-shredder-particles
  • DIN Protection Class: 3
  • Security rating: Extremely high
  • Particle size: < 5 mm² / 0.01 in²
  • Particle width: < 1 mm / 0.04 in
  • After shredding an A4 document: 12,474+ particles
  • After destruction the data is impossible to reproduce.


Paper shredder information and recommendations

Which paper shredder is the best shredder for you to buy? Visit our paper shredder page with all the information you need about paper shredders. You can also find recommendations for the best paper shredders you can buy at Amazon.com.

difference-strip-cut-cross-cut-micro-cut-paper-shredder
Paper shredder cut types (source).

Which shredders do we recommend?

To destroy sensitive documents with personal information, medical information, financial information, or other confidential information, we recommend using a cross-cut shredder or a micro-cut shredder. Read more about these types of paper shredders here:

3 Comments on “DIN 66399 Paper Shredder Security Levels

  1. Hi,
    Please send me info and prices on micro cut P5 of higher.
    Regards,
    Cesar

  2. I’m curious to know something: I am interested in shredding aluminum foil and the thin sheets made from cut up aluminum cans and turkey roasting pans.
    I have heard that paper shredders work remarkably well for this, but the blades are usually made out of inexpensive brass or nickel. As a result, they go DULL really fast when it comes to shredding aluminum. This beats going to machine shops and trying to get metal bits, shavings and swarf. If you were to ask machine shops to let you have their metal refuse back before 1995, ( just before the Oklahoma City bombing and 9-11 ), I’m sure they would be HAPPY to give you entire BAGS of the stuff. But today, the factory workers will eye you with extreme suspicion, look at each other, and then tell you to leave, before they call the cops!!!
    So shredding my own aluminum and finely cutting up my own steel, copper and brass pot scrubbers has proven to be the only way to go. And it is too expensive to buy the metal shavings sold online.
    So, I’m just wondering about how “durable” the blades on a given P-6 or P-7 shredder are. The nice fine bits and pieces would be perfect!!! Would I have to have a machinist re-make the blades out of a harder metal? I sure would appreciate some helpful info and advice on this. Thank you. I can be reached at 1-559-681-6787. Email or phone call , both are fine. Again, thank you.?

    1. Dear Red, thank you for your question. Paper shredders are meant to shred paper, although industrial shredders are also able to shred paperclips, staples and other small metal parts. But it is called a paper shredder, so the main item to use it for is cardboard. I would suggest you look out for a metal shredder. At our facility we also have a metal shredder for shredding hard drives from our clients for instance. But be aware that these machines are quite expensive.

Comments are closed.