About six months ago, out of the blue, Handbrake started crashing almost every time partway through ripping a DVD. And these weren't any ordinary crashes. my whole Mac would suddenly freeze, and the only way to recover was to reboot.
that should have been the giveaway. I had recently upgraded my power Mac to one with over-clocked CPUs. apparently, Handbrake was running those chips so hard that they were overheating and shutting down the machine. The reason it took me so long to realize the nature of the problem is that none of the other apps I use were crashing, including some very processor-intensive games running on boot camp (which is why I went to the overclocked Mac in the first place.)
When I swapped out the cpu carriage for one with a stock CPU and clock speed, all the crashing ceased.
I'm sure this isn't something that will affect many folks, but I wanted to get this note on the record just in case.
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It's very common.
There are likely temperature monitoring programs for Macs, as there are several for PCs. Might be worth installing one.
If you encode codecs like H.264, some programs can run all cores up to 100%. My CPU does it with all eight cores.