What is a safe sustained CPU usage to run at?

I am aware that 100% CPU usage constantly can cause issues with other VMs and have my droplet disabled; but I am performing long encoding tasks so I would like to know what is the max usage I can safely use sustainably.

Is it safe to use cpulimit to keep it around 80% or something lower like 40-50%?

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If the CPU usage on your droplet is somewhere between 70-85% this should not be an issue and the processes causing the CPU usage should not be terminated. You can also tweak the lfd service to make sure that the process will not be killed. You can also go over the mentioned limit, but this can cause performance issues for you as well.

As long as you don’t go to 100% CPU usage for a long period of time, everything will be okay.

DigitalOcean is doing proactive monitoring and will see if your droplet is having 100% CPU usage all the time and may limit the CPU capacity of the droplets displaying this behaviour. Since each droplet shares physical hardware with other droplets, constant 100% CPU use degrades the service quality for other users on the same node.

Kind regards, Alex