One of the most pressing problems worldwide is inadequate access to potable water. Many technologies have been applied to address this through research to find robust but inexpensive methods of desalination that offer high fluxes and use less energy, while reducing chemical use and environmental impact. Membrane desalination technology is universally considered to solve water shortage problems due to its high efficiency and lower energy consumption than distillation methods. This review focuses on the desalination performance of membrane technologies with consideration of the effect of driving force, potential technologies, membrane types, flux, energy consumption and operating temperature, etc. Pressure driven membrane processes (MF, UF, NF, RO), and their fouling propensity and major drawbacks are discussed briefly. Membrane characteristics and the effects of operating conditions on desalination are also covered. Organic-hybrid and inorganic membrane materials can offer advantages, with high flux, good selectivity, and useful chemical and thermal resistance.