This brief presents emerging and promising communication methods for network reliability via delay tolerant networks (DTNs). Different from traditional networks, DTNs possess unique features, such as long latency and unstable network topology. As a result, DTNs can be widely applied to critical applications, such as space communications, disaster rescue, and battlefield communications. The brief provides a complete investigation of DTNs and their current applications, from an overview to the latest development in the area. The core issue of data forward in DTNs is tackled, including the importance of social characteristics, which is an essential feature if the mobile devices are used for human communication. Security and privacy issues in DTNs are discussed, and future work is also discussed.