The crypto market is no stranger to volatility, but the past year has been particularly rough. Despite a slight rally over the past several weeks, the biggest cryptocurrencies are still down substantially from their all-time highs.

The price of Ethereum (ETH 1.75%), for example, is down roughly 66% since its peak in November. Bitcoin (BTC 1.79%) is down more than 71% from its high, and Solana (SOL 3.43%) has tumbled by a whopping 86%.

With some investors concerned that a market crash could be looming, is now really the right time to be investing in crypto? It depends.

Should you stop investing for now?

In some cases, pressing pause on investing can be a smart move -- particularly if money is tight.

Market downturns are one of the worst opportunities to sell your investments because prices are significantly lower. If you initially invested in crypto several months ago and sell now, you'd be selling at a huge discount and locking in those losses.

Nobody knows exactly where crypto is headed in the coming months. But if you can't afford to leave your money invested for at least a year or two, it may be best to avoid investing for now. If crypto prices continue to fall and you suddenly realize you need that money, selling your investments could be costly.

The case for continuing to invest

If you have a solid stash of savings and can afford to continue investing, right now could actually be a fantastic buying opportunity.

Cryptocurrency is a notoriously expensive investment, and buying right now means you'll have the chance to invest at a fraction of the cost. Bitcoin, for example, cost nearly $70,000 per token at its peak, and it's currently priced at around $21,000 per token. And Ethereum, which reached an all-time high of roughly $4,800 per token, now costs around $1,700 per token.

The key, though, is to hold your investments for the long term. Crypto can be extremely volatile, and trying to buy and sell at just the right moment by timing the market is nearly impossible.

If you stay invested for years, though, you could potentially make a lot of money. For example, if you had initially invested in Ethereum three years ago, you would have seen returns of more than 800% since then -- and that's despite the several major downturns it's experienced during that time.

Ethereum Price Chart

Ethereum Price data by YCharts

There are no guarantees that any cryptocurrency will succeed over time. But holding your investments for the long term is one of the most effective ways to keep your money safer.

Is cryptocurrency right for you?

Crypto can be a fantastic long-term investment, but it's not right for everyone. Whether it belongs in your portfolio will depend largely on your financial situation and tolerance for risk.

Before you invest, double-check that your finances are stable and you have a healthy emergency fund. That way, if crypto prices fall, it will be easier to keep your money in the market until they recover.

Also, consider how much risk you're willing to tolerate. Crypto can potentially be a lucrative investment, but it's still speculative right now. If it succeeds, you can stand to make a lot of money. But if it fails, you could lose your entire investment. Before you buy, think about whether that's a risk you're willing to take.

There's no right or wrong answer as to whether it's a smart idea to buy crypto, as it will depend on your unique situation. But weighing the pros and cons can make it easier to decide whether it's the right fit for you.