Can Shredded Documents Be Put Back Together?

It was a dramatic scene that looked like something out of a spy movie, except it was real. Students took over the United States Embassy in Tehran in 1979, which is the event that sparked the Iranian hostage crisis. As the emergency unfolded, embassy workers, including CIA officers, locked themselves in a vault so they could burn or shred the sensitive documents that were inside, according to BBC News. Then they gave themselves up, thinking they had saved the documents from falling into the hands of those who wanted to do harm to America. But had they?

The Iranian students certainly had access to the strips of paper that once made up those documents, but how useful were they? Many people wonder if shredded documents can be put back together. If so, how easy or difficult is it to do? At Storage Quarters, we’re experts in document security and we also offer secure document shredding services. We know you have concerns about your documents so we want to tell you what we know about reconstructing shredded documents.

Reconstructing Shredded Documents

If a document has been shredded, it is possible to reconstruct it, but it isn’t necessarily an easy undertaking. It also depends on the amount of technology that you have available. Putting a shredded document together is a long, arduous process, but advances in technology have made it easier. On the flip side, there have also been advances in document shredding technology that make it more difficult to reassemble documents.

Unfortunately, the Iranians did seize the shredded papers and spent years reassembling them, according to BBC. They laid out all of the shreds out on a floor and came up with a system of numbering and indexing each individual shred. The reassembled documents were later published as a book in Tehran.

Shredded Document Reconstruction Software

The Iranians did things the hard way, but computers make reassembling shredded documents a lot easier. According to Slate, a typical computer program will feed the shreds into a scanner. Then, a document reconstruction software creates an ID number and distinguishes characteristics of each shred taking things like size, color, and font into consideration. It then identifies potential neighboring paper shreds.

Types of Shredders

In some cases, documents cannot be put back together. Very often it depends on how big the shreds are and how many pieces need to be reconstructed. The type of shredder that’s used also plays into this. Most shredders are called Strip-Cut Shredders which cut documents into long strips. These are the easiest documents to reassemble while others, like Cross-Cut Shredders, which Storage Quarters uses at our facilities and on our mobile shred truck, can chop documents into smaller pieces. These machines are able to cross cut paper into confetti-sized pieces that are even harder to reconstruct. Some expensive shredders pulverize documents even further, making reconstruction impossible. If you have important documents that need to be destroyed, you want to do it in as secure a way as possible.

Storage Quarters Will Shred Your Documents Securely

If you have documents that you need to shred, Storage Quarters will do it in a secure environment. You can bring your documents to our Garden City, New York plant or we can bring our mobile shredding truck to you. We recycle all of your shredded paper. We will also give you a certificate of destruction when we are done. Contact Storage Quarters today.