The preservation of micro-organisms by different drying methodologies has been used for decades. Freeze drying in particular is the preferred method for transporting and storing vast culture collections of micro-organism strain types. The literature on drying and preserving micro-organisms is extensive, but is often specific to one particular strain. This review attempts to draw some similar concepts and findings together in one paper, to compare different drying techniques, with specific reference to microorganisms. The main topics covered are cell growth phases and concentration, inducing drying tolerance in microbial cells, drying methods, rehydration of dried cells and packaging and storage conditions. Also, particular attention has been paid to the use of freeze drying and the protective matrices used to improve microbial cell viability after drying.