The specified value for setting 'SAPWD' is invalid. The expected value type is SqlSecureString.
Should translate into "I don't like the SA (SQL Super-admin user) Password you've specified". Not sure where it's running into issue, but one thing we often find is that certain characters (such as '&' and '*' (star) ) can cause problems / be rejected.
You may want to start with something fairly straight forward such as "Land3sk123!" to see if that helps you (and then possibly change the SA password afterwards).
COREDBUTIL should have its own log as well - though I'm guessing that it'll fail on actually trying to access the database (if the SA password failed, chances are we can't create the relevant DB user, and therefor related shenanigans ensue).
Give that a try on a test VM just as a sanity check ... and if it works, you can then revert your server (I'm suggesting reverting your live server as it may end up costing more time to un-do whatever issues SQL Server Express ran into than it wouldbe on resetting it to standard & starting from new. Also "weird state" is a bad starting place for any server).
Hope that helps / makes sense.
thank you for your explanation, I will try to find the CoreDBUtil logs, but plz note that this was encountered using the SQL express option of the installer, i didn't choose any passwords... what is the default password used by the installer - do you know?
I do not ... and the fact that it didn't work is what's got me scratching my head.
You should still be able to log in / "get SU rights" on account of being local admin (helpful ways to reset / change the SA password can be found in places like this one -- 4 Ways to Reset SA Password in Sql Server - wikiHow ).
Sounds like a GPO or so got in your way perhaps (best guesstimate).